WELCH, W.Va. — McDowell County is in a financial mess according to Sheriff Martin West.

The county is the target of a lawsuit by sheriff’s deputies who claim they are owed overtime and the county commission recently laid off eight county employees amid dwindling funds.

Sheriff West told MetroNews Monday he inherited a lot of problems with a growing drug trade and discrepancies in hiring of deputies in the previous administration. All of the problems are coming to a head for West, but he said most notably is the refusal of one particular coal company to pay taxes.

“We’ve got a Russian company that owes one-point-two million dollars,” he said. “They only became delinquent April 1, but we’ve got a suit against them through the prosecuting attorney.”

The company is Bluestone Industries, formerly owned by Jim Justice, but purchased in 2009 by Mechel, the largest mineral and metals company in Russia. West is hoping they can find legal grounds to seize assets of the company to either be auctioned off or to compel the company to pay it’s back taxes before the end of the fiscal year in July.

“They don’t seem to care because they’re hoping to sell out and get out,” said West. “They’re in the process of selling out to the Chinese.”

West has also reached out to the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office in hopes they have the power to initiate action. West would like to see the Attorney General Patrick Morrisey bring forward the power of other state agencies to hold up mining permits until the tax bill is paid.

“It’s a scam more or less,” he said. “A county that’s deprived as much as ours and they want to come in and get all of the mineral resources and then get out.”

The county commission laid off eight workers last Thursday to come up with $150,000 to pay overtime to sheriff’s deputies. Commissioners said there could be more layoffs in the future.

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  • DWL

    Oh thank you the liberal savior on the DC mountaintop! Blessed be your continuing stupidity and hatred of the country. May the sun continue to rise and set in your butt hole. May the idiots of the state of WV continue to vote democratic again and again and again. In your holier than thou name - Mr m0r0n.

    • Ready for Progress

      I undertand that the coal industry is a tradition in the county. My confusement comes when these coal companies close down what skills will these workers have to work in any other industry where they will get paid the same amount or close to what they are making today. I believe the answer is nowhere. The county needs to reinvent itself and get cleaned up, it has plenty of potential but the crooks representing it do not choose to let the wheels of progress turn. Commenting on DWL....the state of West Virginia voted Republican the last election.

  • Harpers Ferry

    MUST be Obama's fault.

    • Aaron

      No, it is the fault of a century of corrupt and/or incompetent local, county and state officials trying to spend the golden egg instead of investing it wisely.

      Just because Obama is incompetent doesn't mean he's part of this particular problem but I can understand why you would think that.

  • Ricardo

    “It’s a scam more or less,” he said. “A county that’s deprived as much as ours and they want to come in and get all of the mineral resources and then get out.” said Sheriff West. Personally, I am 'shocked, shocked' to think that coal companies would operate a scheme to defraud the citizens of WV. Amazing! And after all these years of being such community minded partners. I am sure Attorney General Morrissey, their hand picked out of state office owner will get right on this and clear it up pronto!

    • Aaron

      Why was southern West Virginia opened to the railroads and expansion in the first place Ricky? Care to take a stab at that?

    • Jeff

      You are spot on, Ricardo.

  • tom m.

    the first thing that needs to happen is the feds should come in and investigate the "head man" gordan lambert who is president of the county commission who worse that those in mingo county. to long has the people of this county had to suffer because of people like him. sheriff west is a good man who will stand up for people of this county.

  • Aaron

    I don't believe this is a coal problem, I think it's a government problem. Cities, counties and the state for years had an influx of cold, hard cash and instead of investing it in the local economies, they wasted it by bloating government. Now that the revenues are drying up, they have no way to pay for the golden eggs so many have become accustomed to. I'm sure WV is not alone but every faction of government is overloaded at the expense of taxpayers. I'm sure that more than 8 could go and if government were ran efficiently, no one would notice. The problem is, government and efficient do not belong in the same sentence as attempts to cut are far too often met with criticism and attacks as has been the case in North Carolina recently as described by George Will here...


    • Ricardo

      Its NEVER a coal problem. Coal is the solution! Just look at all its done for our state in the last century and a half.

      • Aaron

        How has an innate object done anything to West Virginia?

      • The bookman

        Poor management of those resources, a lack of vision and planning on the part of local and state officials, and an acceptance of the boom and bust mentality has given us what we have today in Southern WV. Coal is coal, simply a resource. As is always the case, people are to blame. Self serving, short sighted people.

  • Benthere

    And now we sing....Coal is West Virginia!