Grass Roots Environmental Effort Newsletter

October 2001

My Goals for WVEC by Mary WIldfire, WVEC President
Transitions by Norm Steenstra, WV-CAG Executive Director
Attention Air Activists
Take Action For State Forests by Dave Saville, WV Highlands Conservancy
Request for Proposals
Thoughts and "Thank Yous" by Donald S. Garvin, Jr., Outgoing WVEC President
WVEC Sets 2002 Legislative Priorities by Gary Zuckett, Legislative Coordinator
Fast Track is Back by Mary Wildfire, WVEC President
Attack by Air a Commentary by Donald S. Garvin, Jr.
Public Hearing Notice
Green Businesses
Salute to Don Garvin, Male President
WVEC's New Officers

My Goals for WVEC

by Mary Wildfire, WVEC President

In the twelve years since the E-council formed, the environmental landscape in West Virginia has changed considerably. The time had come, when we met for the Fall Gathering, to directly address such questions as the proper role of our group within the environmental community and our confused relation to CAG. Instead of the usual issue workshops and strategy discussions, this year's gathering primarily focused on this collective soul-searching. It wasn't much fun, but I believe it was necessary, healthy and effective-and that WVEC is now emerging from the storm.

We decided to reaffirm our Mission Statement, and that while we will continue to have individual memberships, we will focus more on networking with other organizations. To this end, we plan to adjust our by-laws to open up more seats on our Board of Directors for representatives of groups.

As the new president, my primary goal is to see the process of "emerging from the storm" to completion. This means two things: choosing the best ways to take care of the practical aspects of our separation from CAG, and achieving a clear agreement on the E-council's proper niche within the environmental community. I expect that by the time Mary Ellen O'Farrell takes the helm next September, we will be back to issue workshops and strategy sessions.

I plan to continue to act as a liaison between West Virginia greens and the national and international groups working on globalization issues. To this end, I hope to be in Porto Alegre, Brazil at the end of January for the second annual World Social Forum. This venue was created not to criticize corporate-dominated globalization, but to work out a democratic alternative to it. How should we structure the rules of trade to prioritize environmental protection, respect for diversity, human rights, and social and economic justice over profits? The slogan created at the World Social Forum last year is being heard more and more in the streets: Another World Is Possible.

Here in West Virginia, also, we would do well to manifest this vision, broadcasting vivid pictures of the sustainable world that is indeed possible. A fine example is the Green Energy campaign being started by Jim Kotcon and others. Let's have more of this kind of thinking! Sometimes we must point out what's wrong, but if we also depict clearly what a better alternative would look like, we'll have better odds of getting there.

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by Norm Steenstra, WV-CAG Executive Director

This GREEN will be the last one edited and distributed at the WV-CAG office. We're not sure exactly how many issues we've produced over the years but certainly it's close to 175. For me, personally, that equates to more than three years of spending Friday nights writing, copying, stapling and folding. Needless to say, there are mixed feelings here at CAG about producing our last issue.

GREEN and the Update are two of the most important networking and unifying tools that the environmental community has at its disposal. I believe that as another group of folks takes over its production, the newsletter will continue to be a vital element in our green causes.

From its birth in 1989, the relationship between WVEC and WV-CAG has been blurred. I think of the two organizations as members of the same family. If you'll pardon the trite analogy, WV-CAG was the parent and WVEC the child. In its infancy, WVEC was absolutely dependent on WV-CAG staff, money and resources. As WVEC grew, the dependency continued but the natural search for self identity also began to emerge. Resentment on both sides sometimes builds in these situations but usually respect and admiration result in spite of the growing pains.

For many GREEN readers, the relationship between WV-CAG and WVEC was unimportant or unnoticed. To others it has become a focal point of personality and style disagreements and the separation of the two groups the utmost priority. At any rate, WV-CAG can no longer subsidize the WVEC by performing 90% of its work. Neither the rewards nor the inherent criticisms are worth it to us. WV-CAG will remain a committed WVEC organizational member. WV-CAG staff Linda Mallet, Gary Zuckett, Julie Archer and myself are active WVEC Board members. We will continue to work toward presenting a united green message to the Legislature, media and the state regulators.

GREEN will change and the lobby effort will change because of the WVEC's new independence. Change/Reformation is important to keep a group fresh and innovative. I'm confident that these clearer lines of distinction between the two organizations will make them both stronger.

I want to personally thank the volunteers that helped produce the GREEN and the Update. I also want to thank the WV-CAG Board for allowing us to provide in-kind staff to the WVEC for the greater good of the environmental community at the expense of our own identity. Each GREEN editor has been affiliated with WV-CAG and their dedication, humor and talent made the newsletter the envy of environmentalists across the country. To past editors Sheila McEntee, Kim Baker, Gary Zuckett, and Linda Mallet, the child leaving the nest in no way reflects on your efforts.

As for WV-CAG, we've always tried to connect environmental issues with other social justice and "democratic" process concerns. We will be producing our own legislative newsletter, not in competition but complementing the GREEN. Visit our website at www.wvcag.org for more details on our broad legislative agenda.

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Attention Air Activists

Since 1991 citizens of rural Southwest Virginia have been fighting AEP's proposed 765kV transmission line from Oceana WV to Southwest Virginia. This line will trash communities and plow through the Jefferson National Forest, albeit "tactfully" since the Company was rebuffed in a 1996 "No Action" decision in a DEIS. Now the route has changed and we're into a Supplemental DEIS at the scoping stage. Comments are due this coming Monday, October 15! (Ed. note: this was received as we went to press. Please check with Dave about making post deadline comments.)

Though you are welcome to talk about communities, vistas, roadless areas, premier cave systems, health effects, Indiana bats, and a host of other issues, I'd be happy if each of you could email with but *one* comment:

The construction and operation of the 765kV transmission line may adversely affect the health and well being of citizens and the environment within the service area and beyond by increasing the emissions from AEP's coal-burning generators in West Virginia and the Ohio Valley.

The Forest Service refused to admit this as a significant issue in the DEIS, and it's critical we get it in there this time around. They really need to hear that many people consider this a significant issue in their analysis. Remember to include your mailing address in your comment. The address is:

r8gwjeff AEPComments@fs.fed.us

Copy and paste the whole thing as the email address. The complete address must be used. It's not case-sensitive; I don't know about all those spaces but it works. Thanks! David Muhly, Sierra Club/Appalachian Region, (540)688-2190, david.muhly@sierraclub.org

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Take Action For State Forests

by Dave Saville, WV Highlands Conservancy

Currently, the State Division of Forestry (DOF) is drafting what they call management plans for the State Forests. In reality, they are nothing more than timber harvesting plans. What does the law say about how the Forests should be managed? It states "The purposes are.....the management of state forests for conservation and preservation of wildlife, fish, forest species, natural areas, aesthetic and scenic values and to provide developed and undeveloped outdoor recreational opportunities, and hunting and fishing for the citizens of this state and its visitors." In another passage, the legislature added that the state forests are important for research, and mentioned timber production and demonstration of forestry management. The law sums it up by finding that the state forests "should be managed on a multiple-use basis." As currently practiced, the planning process ignores all the multiple uses but one. In the minds of the DOF planners, managing our State Forests is all about cutting the trees.

The DOF pretends to take citizens wishes into account when it writes these plans, but the "citizen involvement" portion of the planning is a meaningless process and merely window dressing. By the time the citizens get a chance to be involved in these plans, they are already virtually completed. So DOF is free to use state forests as cash cows to fund itself. When it wants to give its employees a raise, just exploit a state forest. When it wants some new equipment, just exploit a state forest. There is no way that responsible timbering and management of our state forests can occur when the proceeds are kept and used at will by the very agency making the decisions. The pocketbook is driving decision making, not sound forest management. Management of our precious few state forests and their resources should be done in an open process in a manor acceptable to, and desirable by, the citizens of the state, not at the will of an agency for its own funding. Objective management is impossible when the agency making the decisions gets to keep the proceeds from these decisions.

The DOF has just released the "draft" plan for Kumbrabow State Forest. This state forest was created when Herman Guy Kump, West Virginia governor from 1932-1936, and two of his cabinet members, Mr. Brady and Mr. Bowers decided to donate approximately 1,500 acres of land each to form a state park. They took portions from each of their names and combined them to name Kumbrabow. Request a copy of the draft plan by writing the DOF at 1900 Kanawha Blvd. East, Charleston, WV 25305, or call them at 304-558-2788, or e-mail them at mrozburn@mail.wvnet.edu. See for yourself the obviously biased and flawed nature of these "plans." Attend the public hearing at the Tygart Valley High School this Thursday October 20, at 7 pm and comment on this draft plan. Hold the DOF responsible to manage our state forests as the law requires, for all West Virginians. Our state forests are too few and too small to be turned into tree farms to fund the DOF. It took a brave act of the Legislature to reign in this out of control agency and prohibit timbering in Kanawha State Forest. Perhaps the legislature needs to revisit the process for our remaining nine state forests.

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Request For Proposals

The WVEC is currently accepting proposals/applications for the following services:

#1. Newsletter editing production and distribution. The WVEC produces newsletters on a weekly basis during the Legislative Session and approximately every other month otherwise. Candidates should have the ability to edit, copy and mail newsletters to approximately 500 members. Newsletter copy will be provided by WVEC Board members, volunteers and organizational members. Newsletter production will include contacting these contributors and coordinating submissions on a timely basis. Historically the WVEC has paid $100 per issue to its newsletter staff.

#2. Administrative Staff WVEC is seeking a contract employee(s) to manage its database, plan and coordinate E-Day (an annual awareness-raising event at the Capitol during the session), answer phones and perform miscellaneous office duties. Historically, the WVEC has paid $150 per month for these services.

#3. WVEC is seeking a 2002 Lobby Team Coordinator. Candidates should have an excellent understanding of the state political system, how bills are introduced, how sub-committees and committees operate, and should have a flexible schedule and ability to monitor and react quickly to proposed legislation and other developments. The Lobby Team Coordinator is responsible for hiring and managing the other lobby team members, with input from the WVEC Board of Directors. The stipend for this position is flexible, based on experience. Stipends are also available for other Lobby Team members.

WVEC is a state-wide, 501(c)4 organization. Our mission is to facilitate communication and cooperation among citizens in promoting environmental protection in West Virginia, to assist in organizing grassroots groups, to facilitate interaction among established environmental organizations, and to correspond with all appropriate local, state, and federal agencies involved in the management of West Virginia's environment.

Proposals should be received by November 7, 2001. Send to Executive Committee, West Virginia Environmental Council, 1324 Virginia St. E., Charleston, WV 25301.

WVEC will consider proposals on just one items (e.g., newsletter production) or a package of two or more items. Please include resumes from individuals that will be involved in the work. Call 304-346-5905 with questions.

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Thoughts and "Thank Yous"

by Donald S. Garvin, Jr., Outgoing WVEC President

Having served as your president for the last two years, I want to offer a sincere "Thank You" to WVEC board members for giving me the opportunity to serve this wonderful group of folks in this capacity.

Seriously. You may not believe me, but this is something I really wanted to do. I am the biggest cheerleader for the E-Council concept. There is no other group or organization that does and can do what the E-Council does in this state. We do not always do it well, and it is not always enjoyable. But we have done it with a large degree of success now for almost 12 years. And we have had some truly enjoyable great times along the way.

I was pleased that so many of you participated in the Annual Meeting this year. At times it was painful, I know. But we made some progress and I think we all remain friends (that is not at all a guarantee when you go through an organizational soul-searching therapy session).

It is my hope that we will continue to discuss our organizational structure during the coming year. We still have some problems to work through and some important questions to answer. It seems to me that we have chosen an organizational path of evolution, rather than revolution. And that is probably for the good. But we all know that there will still be rough spots along that path, and there are still issues out there to deal with.

However, the good news is that Mary Wildfire is your next president. I think she will be great. I sense that she will be a good communicator and will likely be able to work with and empower our committees to a greater degree than I managed to accomplish. Mary has good ideas, she is truly a voice of "the people," and no one can question her dedication to the environmental movement. I hope you will support her and offer to do the things necessary to make the job of WVEC president not so burdensome.

As for me, I am your "Immediate Past President." I have decided on a role for myself in that regard that I hope will be acceptable to Mary (and the rest of the board as well). I want to continue to be our biggest cheerleader and to work on encouraging our individual members and member groups to continue to support WVEC financially. I want to continue to be that "shameless" voice, blaring another "Shameless Plea" for you to send more money!

As for "Thank Yous," if I try to mention everyone who has provided me help or good advice (or even bad advice) during my terms as president, I will surely inadvertently leave someone out. So my sincere thanks to you all. You know who you are.

My final thoughts here I will address to Nathan Fetty, a.k.a. "Boy Wonder," who was my lobby team buddy on water issues the last two years: I couldn't have gotten through it without you, dude! And I fully expect to see you in the trenches again in 2002!

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WVEC Sets 2002 Legislative Priorities

by Gary Zuckett, Legislative Coordinator

I've been to most of the WVEC's annual gatherings and never fail to appreciate the dedication and expertise assembled there. This one was no exception. Two of my favorite events during the weekend are the "I live on a Dot" session and the extended discussion and prioritization of the major ecological issues facing the state.

For those who haven't attended the Fall Gathering, the 'Dot' session is an unusual icebreaker where everyone gets up, one-by-one, to share his or her passion and reason for being there. Regional airports, coal sludge ponds, mountaintop removal mining, national forest plans, water quality, quarries, recycling, acid rain, and scores of local issues were discussed, almost as many issues as individuals. One gets a sense of dread that so much is wrong with our state after listening to the litany of ailments. However, the flip side is the potential for positive action represented by this dedicated group of environmentalists.

As our meeting wrapped up on Sunday, we finally got to the part I'd been waiting for - the discussion on legislative priorities. After the necessary but drawn-out work on the reorganization and by-laws, this was a welcome relief.

After a short discussion on the past legislative session and brief updates by the leaders on the perennial topics of water, coal, trees, and air, we had a go-round so everyone could list his or her legislative concerns. From this we distilled a half dozen broad issues which we agreed were essentials for our lobby team to address. These topics will be developed further in future GREEN issues. So for now I'll briefly lay out the territory as seen from Camp Pioneer.

Logging Reform: Seen any good floods lately? Chances are there's been massive logging nearby. WV has very few and weak controls on timbering. What exists are "voluntary best management practices." That's right. The state assumes that all timber cutters are following the best (and most costly) methods for cutting and hauling trees out of concerns for their local community and the health of the environment. NOT! This is a real joke. Regulations must be made mandatory and strengthened to protect our soil, water, roads and lives. CORL the Coalition for Responsible Logging and WV Highland Conservancy are the lead groups on this issue and WVEC expects to assist their effort to introduce and pass a reform bill again this year.

Green Energy: "California here we come" if we go through with the Electricity Deregulation package as proposed by the Public Service Commission and the utility companies and passed by the legislature. So far implementation has been held up by the potential loss of millions of dollars of tax revenue. Our governor is wise to appoint an "Energy Task Force" to reevaluate the situation and recommend new options.

WVEC wants a package including incentives for renewable (green) energy and full disclosure of the generation sources of electricity being sold. One of the lessons from dereg is that many consumers will pay a little more for clean energy if they have the choice. Another consideration is the "grandfathering" of dirty burning coal plants into the WV plan. Even Texas, under then Governor Bush, made these asthma generators clean up their acts in its dereg plan.

Coal Issues With the "what's good for coal is good for WV" attitude of the majority of legislators (see campaign finance below), coal issues abound.

Bonding of mining operations to insure reclamation has been in the news lately. The courts have ruled the state's bonding fund is inadequate for the necessary reclamation of abandoned mining sites. WVEC wants a fully funded program or federal takeover of the whole mess to insure that old mining operations are taken care of. This is a win-win situation. If more money is available to reclaim the neglected scars of mining, more jobs will be created for out-of-work miners and the environment is better protected from acid mine drainage, flooding, erosion and other damage.

Coal slurry ponds have also garnered recent public attention. These toxic time bombs are threatening rivers and streams around the state. There are better ways to deal with this by-product of coal production. Let's do it.

Coal regulations the devil is in the details. Every year coal lobbyists and their lawyers try to weaken the already minimal regulations governing their industry. It's a war of attrition and the environment often looses. However if our lobby team wasn't watching these slimeballs' every move, a lot more damage would slide through. It's a game of cat and mouse, with King Koal seeing how much it can eat away at environmental protections before it gets caught. Actually, it's not really fair to single out coal when oil & gas, chemicals, and anyone with a smokestack in the air or discharge pipe in the river is involved.

Overweight coal trucks continue to rampage through the state. Coal operators maximize profit at the expense of our roads and lives. A simple change in regulation could stop the majority of this lawlessness. Does the legislature have the guts to go up against Koal on this issue of profit vs people? We'll see

Campaign Finance Reform: i.e. public financing of elections. It's really simple. If we (the taxpayers) fund the campaigns, then those who get elected will remember they are working for the public instead of various special interests that now finance elections. As Molly Ivans says, "Them that pays the piper gets to call the tune." The WV People's Election Reform Coalition (PERC-WV) is spearheading this essential option for clean elections with a draft public financing proposal called "HB 1776." See www.publicampaign.org for loads of reasons why this is "The Reform That Makes All Other Reforms Possible."

Water Quality Issues affect us all and can be some of the most technical to understand. Luckily we had both WV Rivers Coalition and Trout Guys to walk us through the Water Quality package coming up. The regulations enacting last year's Antidegradation rules will be an issue including the list of streams designated Tier 2.5 which are reproducing trout waters. This list will be finalized during the next session. Industry will attempt to demote as many as they can to class 2 or lower to allow more pollutants to be dumped into them before the automatic "AntiDeg" review kicks in.

Container Law for WV: There was a time when pop bottles were returnable and kids everywhere scoured the roadsides to earn the cash they could collect by taking them back to the store. Then the disposable society kicked in. Several states now have "bottle bills" that reinstate a bounty on bottles and cans. They have cleaner roadsides and more jobs processing returns. This is also a net energy saver. A bottle bill for WV would reduce litter, create jobs, and conserve energy. A triple win scenario. WV-CAG (www.wvcag.org) brought this idea back from the dead and WVEC members wholeheartedly supported it.

Defensive Actions: During every session there are always the offensives from the other side that must be dealt with on the spot. Every day the Lobby team reads new bills looking for the above mentioned attrition of our environmental protections. A large importer of NY sewage sludge was recently shut down by the courts as a public nuance. He was also a large contributor in the last state elections. One never knows what polluters will try next. To paraphrase, the price of environmental protection is eternal vigilance.

All the Rest: The above are only the tip of the iceberg. There are always more issues that must be kept on the radar screen such as the Regional Airport, Solid Waste, Blackwater Canyon, greenspace issues, and many, many more. So stay tuned and if you're not already on the WVEC e-mail action alert list, send a note to Chris hogbin at cahogbin@cs.com (our list mother) and get ready for 2002.

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Fast Track is Back

by Mary Wildfire, WVEC President

First they said they wouldn't vote on Fast Track for at least a month. Then the Reprehensible Reptiles hid it within the "Economic Recovery Act," like baking a turd into a tart in hopes Congress would bite down and swallow before realizing what that smell was. Then came September 11th and a brief respite in which there was much talk of healing and bipartisan unity. But there was also an upsurge in support for Bush, and apparently these guys just couldn't restrain themselves- House Ways and Means Chairman Thomas and U.S. Trade Representative Zoellick decided to wrap the tart in the flag and sprint for the goalpost. They're talking like opposition to Fast Track is support for terrorism, or motivated by campaign donations from threatened industries. Three tame Democrats have signed on to the "compromise," and it's scheduled to go out of committee Friday the 5th. There may be a vote this week!

Fast Track paves the way for expansion of NAFTA and more rounds of the WTO, both of which have private little tribunals in which afflicted corporations can get environmental laws and other "non-tarriff barriers to trade," ruled non-compliant and sanctioned.

The AFL-CIO has reactivated its toll-free number. Especially if you live in Capito's district-because she is still on the fence- call 1-800-393-1082, and then dial in your zip code and you'll automatically be connected to your Congressperson. Talk about the environment or American jobs, about democracy or sovereignty, but call and tell her to Vote NO to Fast Track!

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Attack by Air a Commentary

by Donald S. Garvin, Jr.

We are all shocked and saddened by the events of Sept. 11 and the loss of more than 6,000 lives through such an inhumane act. At the recent WVEC annual meeting we appropriately paused for a moment of grief for those lives lost and reflection on that tragic atrocity.

A sobering perspective on this was provided to us by board member Jim Kotcon, who pointed out that as many as 60,000 people die prematurely each year because of exposure to air pollution, and more than 30,000 deaths each year are caused by pollution from U.S. power plants.

In fact, according to "Clear the Air," a joint project of three leading clean air groups (the Clean Air Task Force, National Environmental Trust and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund), deaths from power plant pollution exceed the death toll from other causes commonly understood to be major U.S. public policy priorities. For instance, drunk driving causes nearly 16,000 deaths per year, while there are over 17,000 homicides in the U.S. each year. Moreover, according to "Clear the Air," almost 18,000 deaths could be avoided in the U.S. each year, simply by cleaning up this nation's dirty power plants.

I point this out not to diminish in any way the tragic loss of life in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania, but only to pose the obvious question: is it not time that a country as great as ours takes the simple steps necessary to clean up our air and save thousands of lives each year in the process? It seems to me that for us not to do so would be tragic as well.

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Public Hearing Notice

The WVDEP Division of Air Quality (DAQ) will hold a public hearing on Nov 8, 2001 at 6:00 pm in its conference room at 7012 MacCorkle Ave SE, Charleston, WV on a proposed State Plan to Implement Emission Guidelines for Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units (CISWI).

The hearing is being held to satisfy all requirements for submitting a proposed 111(d)/129 State Plan that will be submitted to the U.S.EPA and supplements proposed legislative rule 45CSR18 - "To Prevent and Control Emissions From Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units," to be effective June 1, 2002. This rule gives WV regulatory authority to adopt, implement and enforce the Emission Guidelines requirements for existing CISWI and the New Source Perfomance Standards for new facilities, either directly through administrative action requiring compliance with 45CSR18, or by including such requirements in State permits, where applicable.

Pursuant to Sections 111(d) and 129 of the 1990 Amendments of the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA promulgated standards for new commercial and industrial solid waste incineration units (CISWI) in 40 CFR Part 60, Subpart CCCC and Emission Guidelines for existing CISWI in Subpart DDDD to control the emissions of designated pollutants. (See 65 FR 75338, December 1, 2000). A facility is considered an existing CISWI if the facility commenced construction on or before Nov. 30, 1999.

Written and oral comments will be accepted until the close of the hearing on Nov 8, 2001. Comments will also be accepted by e-mail if transmitted by 6:00 pm on Nov 8, 2001 to jwhite@mail.dep.state.wv.us . Written comments may be faxed to 304-926-3637 or mailed to: John Benedict, Deputy Director, DAQ, 7012 MacCorkle Avenue, SE, Charleston, WV 25304.

Comments must be postmarked Nov 8, 2001. Copies of the proposed State Plan are available for public review at the DAQ office at the above address and will be posted on the Division's web page at www.dep.state.wv.us/daq by going to "Inside DAQ," then to "Regulations," and finally to "Public Notice." Copies may also be obtained electronically by request made to: jwhite@mail.dep.state.wv.us.

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Green Businesses

WVEC Secretary Bob Hamburg is proposing that the WVEC establish a Green Business of the Year Award. His proposal states that the award-winning business would, through its activities, demonstrate the necessary balance and potential symbiotic relationships among financial, economic, social and environmental concerns. If you have or know of a business that you would like the WVEC board to consider, please call us at 346-5905.

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Salute to Don Garvin, Male President

We're not an organization that's very good at saying Thank You or expressing appreciation to people who give so much time to the WVEC but we would be remiss not to point out what a critical role Don Garvin served as WVEC President for the last two years. Don's tireless effort, caustic wit and ability to herd green cats steered the WVEC through two rough years. The good news is Don will continue to provide leadership in his new position of Past President. Thank You, Don!!!

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WVEC's New Officers

At its Annual Fall meeting last month, the WVEC Board elected its officers for the upcoming year:

Mary Wildfire - President

Mary Ellen O'Farrell - Vice President

Bob Hamburg - Secretary

Linda Mallet - Treasurer

Don Garvin - Past President

The next WVEC Board of Directors meeting will be on Sunday, October 21 from 11 - 4 PM at the CAG office at 1500 Dixie Street, Charleston.

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