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Editorial

Gregory’s Web – June 11, 2023

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Ron Gregory political columnist

It was the height of sadness coupled with tributes to his character that highlighted the reactions of Mingo Countians to the horrific news that a protector of the innocent had lost his own life in defense of his fellow man.

It was ironic indeed that the small town of Matewan provided the dateline for numerous stories about the ambush death of Sergeant Cory Maynard of the West Virginia State Police Williamson Detachment last week. The twist of irony came with the remembrance that this murder was nearly to the day on the anniversary of the infamous Matewan Massacre.

That incident, which occurred on May 19, 1920, involved several private security guards hired by mine owners to maintain control of their workers, the local sheriff Sid Hatfield, the mayor of Matewan Cable Testerman, and local residents.

We don’t need to recount the details of that tragedy to realize that coupled with the Maynard murder, Mingo has earned its title. It is, regardless of the thousands of fine people who live there, “Bloody Mingo.” And the bloodshed has often brought incredible sadness.

Time stood still momentarily this June 2, a scant two weeks after the Massacre anniversary, when Sergeant Maynard was gunned down on Beech Creek near Matewan.

Details of what, exactly, precipitated the modern-day shooting are sketchy, just as they have always been of the 1920 shooting.

In the current situation, harsh words were apparently exchanged between two Beech Creek residents.

Somehow, the words escalated to gunfire and a top-quality Trooper eventually lost his life in the Mingo sunshine.

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Sadness pervaded the hills as the policeman, son, husband, and father died at the Logan Medical Center.

Words of comfort are inadequate and the sun has gone out in many quarters.

Mingo Countians will fondly recall Cory Maynard’s soft voice with children, his infectious smile, and his comforting words. When people needed help, Maynard was their steady friend.

A light of courage and protection has gone out in Mingo County. Cory Maynard’s EOW (End of Watch) has been cut short. His likes will seldom pass this way again.

Sincere sympathy goes to his family and legion of friends.

* * * * * *

While community members turned out in huge numbers to show their support for Sergeant Maynard and his family, people in other parts of the area stepped up to show their support from a distance.

A fund established to assist the family quickly netted $40,000 and area businesses stepped up to honor him.

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The Juice Box smoothie and juice bar donated a day’s profit to the grieving family. Other businesses pitched in as well.

These tragedies can have no happy ending as we all suffer the loss of one of God’s protecting angels.

It is his family and the good people of Mingo who have lost a valuable friend.

* * * * * *

The high drama world of politics seems trivial at times like this but the world continues to spin and we are indeed fortunate that Sergeant Maynard passed this way.

* * * * * *

With the 2024 primary election less than a year away, folks are already speculating about whether Republican Governor Jim Justice will agree to debate Congressman Alex Mooney in their high-stakes United States Senate race.

Trailing Justice by as much as 30% in some polls, Mooney needs to get Justice on stage somewhere to contrast himself and the Governor.

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Justice is not as comfortable in a debate setting as he is on stage alone where his “Mr.-Haney-aw-Shucks” persona works well one-on-one with voters.

Mooney thinks fast on his feet, making him an excellent debater. It’s safe to say he’ll make Justice look bad if he can get them side-by-side on an open, public stage.

As I mentioned last week, Mooney will no doubt seek to exploit the Governor’s weak credentials with the far-right crowd. Unfortunately for Justice, that is the crowd that has dominated recent GOP primaries.

If former President Donald Trump endorses Mooney publicly, Justice will be in deep trouble.

A Trump endorsement might just put the topping on a Mooney primary victory cake next year.

* * * * * *

The days are long gone when candidates for Justice of the Supreme Court of West Virginia nearly had to be law school graduates of Lexington, Virginia’s prestigious Washington & Lee University, but my how things have changed.

It is now more fashionable to have earned one’s law degree from West Virginia University in Southern Pennsylvania and the result is noticeable.

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Unlike the distinctly upper-crust appearance and conduct from W&L grads, WVWho alum apparently has adopted the “Good Ol’ Mountain Dew” image played well by WVU coaches and players.

Rather than showing the inside of a courtroom, as most traditional West Virginia judicial candidates do, one early video for appointed incumbent Justice C. Haley Bunn shows her racing around a woodchopping event and handing out treats.

Bunn’s commercial avoids showing her in the traditional black robe as she smiles broadly while greeting voters and their children on the street.

To emphasize that this is no uppity Supreme Court Justice, the entire spot blasts John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” as Bunn races about.

When one considers the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, or any Supreme Court, a “country boy” is not exactly the image that first comes to mind.

Bunn’s seat is up for re-election in 2024 since she was appointed by Governor Justice to the term vacated when Evan Jenkins resigned.

From Oceana, she has not run for office before. Based on this initial commercial, it will be interesting to see how her campaign unfolds.

Maybe we’ll see her in camouflage bear hunting gear soon.

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When discussing Bunn’s candidacy with a regular reader last week, a question arose.

“Speaking of that,” he said, “whatever happened to Evan Jenkins?”

When I said I’d been wondering the same thing, we both talked of how the former state lègislator and Congressman had resigned from the bench amidst much speculation that he was planning a run for an elected position. Governor was thought to be a possibility.

“I haven’t heard from him since,” the reader chuckled.

Neither have I. We may need to sponsor a “Where’s Evan?” contest.

* * * * * *

Wheeling resident Diana Winzenreid became the newest member of the West Virginia House of Delegates on June 7.

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Winzenreid was appointed to serve the Fourth Delegate District, which is made up of the southeastern corner of Ohio County. She will complete the unexpired term of former Delegate Erikka Storch, an Ohio County Republican.

The new delegate stood at the front of the House Chamber with her niece and her nephew as she took the oath of office, which was administered by House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, a Clay County Republican.

The level-headed Storch will be missed in the capitol corridors. Her keen business sense often added a touch of business wisdom to debates.

Storch resigned to take a new job in the private sector. She will be hard to replace.

Winzenreid is a graduate of Indiana University and owns a digital marketing agency. She said she has great respect for all those who are in office and wants to be more involved in serving her community.

* * * * * *

Speaking of legislators who are indeed valuable reminds me of recent accomplishments by hard-working Cabell County Republican Delegate Daniel Linville.

Last week, we had a story wherein Linville’s hard work and dedication to bringing cutting-edge Internet technology to West Virginia resulted in an additional 86,000 households in the Mountain State being funded for Internet service.

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Linville’s persistence and tenacity resulted in an additional $400 million being dedicated to internet expansion in West Virginia. It happened because Linville insisted the federal agency involved had undercounted the state’s unserved population and they finally admitted it.

Even Democrat U.S. Senator Joe Manchin praised Linville’s effort. “He helped accomplish what I’ve been working on for seven years,” the Senator beamed. Believe me, the additional folks to be included now owe a debt of gratitude to the Cabell Countian.

In another project, Linville took advantage of being a guest speaker at an energy conference in Egypt (not at taxpayer expense either, Senator Blair) to pitch the state as prime for economic development.

That visit led to last week’s announcement that Clean Vision Corporation, a company specializing in sustainable clean technology and green energy, has recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development (WVDED).

The agreement will enable Clean Vision’s subsidiary, Clean-Seas West Virginia, to establish a manufacturing facility in the state. The facility will focus on converting plastic feedstock into precursors for recycled content plastics and clean fuels like hydrogen.

The agreement includes over $12 million in state investment, with $1.75 million provided as forgivable loans and the rest in tax and employment incentives. This project, anticipated to result in capital investments of at least $50 million, is expected to create a minimum of 40 full-time jobs.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice expressed pride in the state becoming Clean-Seas’ first facility in the United States and the mid-Atlantic hub of its Plastic Conversion Network. He emphasized the state’s commitment to innovative and financially viable technologies that support a clean economy.

Dan Bates, CEO of Clean Vision, expressed excitement about helping West Virginia become a leader in clean energy and specifically mentioned the contribution Linville made to the project.

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Despite all this, Linville has yet to turn the water into wine. But all West Virginians owe him a debt of gratitude.

* * * * * *

GOP Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, currently the leading candidate for Governor in 2024, asked in a text message how much I was paid to write “trash” about him.

While Morrisey writes texts like that and appears on the Tom Roten Morning Show to dispute my recent stories about his wife’s lobbying firm, he fails to offer any insight into where my stories contain any inaccuracies.

So here’s a friendly challenge, Mr. AG: point specifically where any of my stories have been incorrect or apologize for trying to attack my integrity. If I’ve stated something as fact that is not, I’ll apologize profusely and set the record straight.

* * * * * *

Putnam County Commissioner Steve Deweese was the voice of reason when I talked with last week about the gay pride event planned for the weekend at Valley Park in Hurricane.

A poorly-worded Facebook paragraph by Deweese touched off a firestorm of debate earlier in the week.

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The Commissioner referred to the First Amendment and seemed to say it might be ignored in future scheduling at county parks.

Deweese told me that’s the exact opposite of what he meant.

“We know Americans have a right to voice their opinion, whether we agree with them or not. Once people are reminded of that, they understand that an LGBTQ group has a right to rent a shelter for an event.”

Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185; ron.gregory@wvstatewide.com; or PO Box 20297, Charleston, WV 25362. Anonymous tips are welcomed.

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  • Ron Gregory

    From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia – Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state.

From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia - Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state.