CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A group of West Virginia senators is teaming up to help revitalize the southern part of the state.

Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) announced the formation of the SCORE initiative Thursday at the State Capitol. It stands for Southern Coalfields Organizing and Revitalizing the Economy.

The goal is to help promote growth in an area that’s seen big job losses and thousands of residents moving away in the last 30 years.

“I want to make sure we’re being proactive and looking at opportunities as we move forward as a state,” said Kessler.

The task force is made up of thirteen senators, both Republicans and Democrats, from Randolph County to Mingo County.  Over the next two months they’ll hold a series of listening sessions, talking to their constituents, individuals and business owners, to hear what they have to say — good and bad — about the region and what needs to be improved.

“We’ve got to find a way to be smarter, quicker and better than everybody else,” said SCORE Co-Chairman Senator Art Kirkendoll of Logan County. “We’ll really do a good job once we listen and bring the recommendations back to our legislative bodies.”

In fact, Kessler said he hopes to use the information from the listening session to offer up legislation in the upcoming session. He said with the gridlock in Washington, D.C., West Virginia is going to have fend for itself.

“As a state I don’t think we can sit back and watch it unravel in Washington. We need to see what we can do, as state legislators, representing our communities to try and bring economic development and diversity and initiative back to our region and create jobs and opportunities for our people,” explained Kessler.

One big push will be to bring manufacturing back to the southern part of the state. That’s been a problem in the past because there was no flat land for sale.  Boone County Senator Ron Stollings says that’s not the case anymore with dozens of coal removal sites ready for the taking.

“We are topographically challenged as we all know. Now we have these vast areas of land that are now ripe for development. Post-mine land use, I think, is really going to be our ticket to diversification,” said Stollings.

The task force also wants to focus on increasing tourism, providing better healthcare and education, expanding agribusiness and broadband access and supporting clean coal research.

Kessler is confident the task force can help bring about a rebirth in southern West Virginia.

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  • WV Worker

    Are these Senators running for office next time? Why all of the sudden do they want to help Southern WV? I have a suggestion and they can start with me: Why not buy out everyone in McDowell County , build a dam around it and make McDowell Lake. We could be like Bluestone Lake, have a state park, boat docks, water skiing, fishing a perfect place for family entertainment. The state gets money from fees, a few people can work for the state, probably the one working now, the people get out everyone is happy. Let's face it, most places in McDowell don't have good drinking water, no sewer systems and no jobs. A perfect solutions everyone wins.

    • Isabel

      Laird is running in 2016.

      Vote Republican!

  • Jeff

    Look at forward thinking Boone County! They blew up practically the whole county knowing manufactures would be lining up for all that prime, flat land. Slick! It's like winning the lottery twice

  • Low Rider

    Why would anyone build a manufacturing plant in Southern WV? Infrastructure is bad, roads are poor, housing is lousy, education system is in shambles, meth use is rampant, politicians are crooked.

    OK, I've changed my mind…where can I break ground for my new plant.

    • Larry

      Don't forget about all the nice, level, developable land in southern WV.

  • SouthernConservative, very conservative!

    Psssst. Ain't happening. Just had five of my younger generation neighbors pack up and move to Texas. They all were laid off from the coal mines and all five men pooled together for the Texas trip. They interviewed for positions in the oil industry within the first week, were told they could have a job if they could return in two weeks and were paid to relocate their wives and children. POOF! they left, turned their house over to a realtor here and were gone, just that fast. Word is out and more are planning to go. Word was given to pass along, "we'll take any dedicated, hard working West Virginia miner here in Texas. Got to do what you got to do to feed the family at 35 years of age.

  • Billy

    Best thing they can do for us in southern WV is leave us alone. Government intrusion has not helped us yet and I doubt it ever will.

  • Bill

    What a crock of B.S.

  • BOOM

    Part thing that could happen to Charleston is IRIS blows it up, while the senate and house are in session.

  • Larry

    Without coal mining, southern WV is doomed, plain and simple.

  • Tom m.

    It would be a good idea but they have to get rid of one of the most corrupt public official in the county,Gordon Lambert.

  • Richard

    What a joke. These clowns have screwed up not only WV but the country. Charleston is so corrupt it would take 100's of years to fix it. Give it up losers. Maybe if you guys would not have been stealing money for decades. This would have not had happened. Same old same old.

  • thornton

    Politicos love makes them sound imaginative.
    Basically tho....I reckon they are most concerned with it's use on campaign literature and ballcaps.

  • David

    Kessler has got to be one dim bulb.

    It's already unraveled and his party and leader led the unraveling!

    No manufacturing jobs are moving to southern WV for a variety of reasons.

    You want jobs then support right to work legislation and get out of the way.

  • David

    Dumb democrats... We've had enough of the organizing by socialist democrats, pay attention to the upcoming election!

  • Surenuff

    Three weeks before election time could not be better after 30 years in decline. I hope it helps somebody gets reelected. Not enough money in all of China to help an area that the most powerful person in the world declared war against,

    • cutty77

      When Buck Harless passed on that part of WV died. Plain and Simple.

  • Bob

    Sounds like Kessler is running for Tomlin's Job when he leaves office. What better way to use tax payers $ to introduce yourself to southern WV.

    • Surenuff

      Throwing good money after bad. Senator Manchin will likely run for that seat and win.Senator Kessler needs to move to a more liberal state if he wants to run for Governor no matter what the Senator Manchin. He is too liberal to be elected here