KEYSER - “This is really exciting to introduce our leaders,” said Randy Crane, president of the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce as he hosted the annual legislative dinner.

By Ronda Wertman
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER - “This is really exciting to introduce our leaders,” said Randy Crane, president of the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce as he hosted the annual legislative dinner.
“Our neighbors, our representatives have come to share all the good things they have been working on,” he said, introducing Delegates Gary Howell and Ruth Rowan and Senators Randy Smith and Dave Sypolt.
“It was really a dream,” said Smith of his roads bill, which would have allocated $400 million to secondary roads. “The governor is the one who vetoed my bill.”
Along with funding, the bill had many oversight provisions including that the West Virginia Division of Highways had to report to the legislature each year and had to work with county officials on priority roads.
 “The county was going to have a lot of input in what roads would be fixed,” he added.
“If the state couldn’t do 70 percent of the maintenance, the state could contract it out,” Smith said.
He added that Governor Jim Justice vetoed his bill over concerns that it was taking too much away from the executive branch.
“It will be back next year bigger and better,” Smith vowed.
Crane noted that work is underway to widen Route 28 for a turning lane at Scenic Lane, which has been a concern brought to light during Mineral County Days in Charleston.
Carpendale mayor Casey Lambert noted another need on Alternate 28 where the mountain is sliding away, with 20 to 25 trees across the road this winter.
Officials noted that the 10 highway districts each get $1 million for slides.
Smith added that both Preston and Monongalia counties have many roads that are down to one lane due to slides.
“A lot of core maintenance money is having to go to slides. It’s a huge problem clear across the state,” he said.
Howell reported that last year’s record rainfall is double what the area normally experiences and its impacting trees and causing slides.
Piedmont mayor Ben Smith expressed his concern over slides, noting that they are happening in the towns, which are not covered by the state or county.
It was noted that the legislators are allocating money toward this and Howell explained that counties can enact a tax to address roads in the county under home rule.
“Home rule is a pilot cities can apply for,” he added, noting that Class 4 cities can apply in July.