McKinley talks infrastructure with West Virginia mayors | News, Sports, Jobs
BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — A U.S. lawmaker met with a number of West Virginia mayors on Tuesday, including Weirton Mayor Harold Miller, to discuss issues facing many cities in the state, including the needs in infrastructure and more.
U.S. Representative David McKinley, RW.Va., met with city officials from across the state for a roundtable Tuesday at the Bridgeport Conference Center in Bridgeport.
Among those present were West Virginia Municipal League Executive Director Travis Blosser, State Auditor John B. “JB” McCuskey, Mayor of Buckhannon Robbie Skinner, Mayor of Shinnston Patrick Kovalck, Mayor of Granville Patricia Lewis, Mayor of Fairmont Tom Mainella, Mayor of Harrisville Alan Haught, Mayor of Parkersburg Tom Joyce, Mayor of Clarksburg James Marino, Mayor of New Martinsville Sandy Hunt , Weston Mayor Kim Harrison, Lost Creek Mayor Dave Oliverio and Mason Town Mayor James Cottrell.
McKinley reiterated his support for the recently passed infrastructure bill that will be a benefit to West Virginia as well as how people have continued to confuse it with “Building Back Better” it did not vote on and did not pass, which included proposed spending on social programs. People still confused the two and he was criticized for supporting the infrastructure bill.
“I wanted to speak with all of you” McKinley said. “What do you need? How can we help?
“When we meet, it’s for a reason. We want to know what your problems are.
He said many of the bills he has worked on have come out of such discussions.
McKinley spoke about politics in Washington, DC, where people wanted to make infrastructure bills, but each party wanted to do it on its own terms. He was asked to wait until there was a majority where they could do whatever a party wanted and he saw that a party didn’t want certain leaders to win a legislative victory and refrain from doing whatever it would be. Both sides delayed action for years.
Meanwhile, the state’s infrastructure has continued to deteriorate, and West Virginia has some of the lowest infrastructure ratings in the country, putting it in last place nationally in a list of the American Society of Civil Engineers which awarded it the grades Ds and Fs. .
“We have to deal with it now” he said. “I waited 11 years to do it.”
There are water systems in the state that are over 70 years old in many places.
“(The vote on the infrastructure bill) was a vote for West Virginia, no one else, and I’m proud that I did it,” McKinley said adding the amount of money the state receives is greater than what the state invests on its own and comes from across the country.
West Virginia will receive billions of dollars for roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, broadband systems and more.
It costs more to build a mile of road in West Virginia than in places like Iowa and Kansas.
“We want to make sure that the money goes to the region that needs it the most,” McKinley said.
Mayors in the area have spoken of the need to update water and sewer systems as well as roads.
Miller said they have nine state roads around Weirton and they continually have issues with road paving and the state has stepped up and resolved some of their road issues.
Some industries have come back with new developments in smaller manufacturing operations and they are considering water upgrades.
“Companies want pad (sites) ready on the ground with water pipes and electricity”, he said.
Joyce spoke about water projects in the city of Parkersburg as well as the need for paving and bridges in the city.
“I would like to see something where cities can leverage our budgets with some of these (infrastructure) funds to expand some of these projects and get our money to go further,” he said.
McCuskey talked about these infrastructure funds coming directly to the places that need them. With safeguards in place, local officials will be able to direct the money where it is needed, he said.
“We’ll look back and say we actually spent $5 billion on infrastructure,” he said, adding that it will be spent faster where it is needed and voters will be listened to.
Mainella said he feels the focus on West Virginia has been good for people in the state.
“The silent majority is grateful” he told people across the state.
McKinley talked about better accountability and they are looking for projects to do.
“We need to grow the economy” he said. “We hope this will revive our economy by creating jobs.”
More and more companies are coming to the state with new job prospects.
Once those jobs are created, it generates more revenue and allows local governments to be more accomplished, the congressman said.
Leaders appreciated McKinley’s availability to talk and listen to them as well as the support he provided Washington for a variety of projects.
“We pick up the phone and we get an answer from you”, Joyce said.