Senator Bill Cole paid a visit to the staff at the Logan Banner on Monday afternoon, where he was interviewed by Logan Banner employee, Cindy Moore.
Moore had questions for Mr. Cole on what his plans were for Southern West Virginia’s coal jobs if he becomes governor.
Cole said that he made a decision last summer to run for governor because he feels he has the skill, mindset and the business background that will serve him well with what he thinks needs to happen in state government.
He said that WV got caught being a one trick pony, depending one hundred percent on coal and nothing else and the president’s war on coal has left our state in dire circumstances because we haven’t been business friendly. “We didn’t do anything to attract other businesses, we just said if you want WV coal you’re going to have to put up with West Virginia politics and nonsense,” stated Cole. “We really did get caught not having a diversified economy.”
Cole stated that over the last two years legal reforms and regulatory reforms were passed, in which he believes will make WV attract other industries and other job opportunities and put our people back to work. “If there’s one thing that WV needs most desperately, it’s opportunities to put our people to work,” stated Cole.
When Cole was asked about the loss of coal mining jobs in WV, he said that he is the last person in the world to give up on the coal industry. “I live in Southern West Virginia and I have businesses there and also in Eastern Kentucky. I don’t believe the coal business will ever be back to where it was but I do believe it will be better than it is today,” he said.
“Last year we did a Coal Jobs and Safety Act where we redid a lot of regulations that went back to the 1940’s and 1950’s technology that made it a whole lot easier for these coal companies to operate, notwithstanding the fact that safety was paramount. Nothing is worth one person’s life. We followed that up with Coal Jobs and Safety Act II in the session that just ended a week ago and we did several legal reforms. We passed a law this session that effectively ends the extra .56 cents per ton severance on coal, which was put in place to retire the old workers’ compensation debt. That will end this June and will be a relief to the industry,” said Cole. Cole stated that a lot has been done for the coal industry in the last two years than has been done in the history of the state, as far as he is concerned, so he’ll continue to fight and always fight for miners’ safety, but anything they can do to get out of their way to free the mines up to be more competitive, he’ll do it.
Because Cole stated that he does not feel the coal mines will be what they once were, Moore asked what plans he had for those who will not get coal mining jobs back and do not want to be forced to leave the state they love to live in so well. With that, Cole stated that he is looking at things, looking at opportunities to attract businesses here in WV. He said that WV became the 26th state in the nation to pass the Right to Work bill. “We had a company show up, and they showed up 100% because we passed that law and they intend to put 400 people to work. To my understanding, they are in the final negotiations for property, and this is a Southern West Virginia story and these will be manufacturing jobs that are good paying jobs,” said Cole. “This company is doing this because they want to be part of the success story in putting Southern WV back to work.” Cole did not disclose the name of the company, what it manufactures or the exact pay but he said it will be really good.
Cole said that there are a lot of people coming together to find solutions for jobs. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but it will happen. We need to start working at it every day and we will turn it around,” he said.
Cindy Moore can be reached at 304-752-6950 or by email at [email protected]