Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 28, 2012

Manchin: Reconnecting McDowell is making progress

(Continued)

The Washington, D.C., nonprofit First Book has given out 4,500 books already, with a promise of 18 more per year per student for the next five years.

Verizon has helped fund family literacy centers, Save the Children is running after-school programs, and VH-1 Save the Music Foundation donated $30,000 worth of band instruments to Mount View High School.

On the government side, the state Supreme Court launched a juvenile drug court aimed at getting teens treatment and combating truancy.

McDowell still needs better roads and amenities including a grocery store, restaurant and health club to atract young teachers, she said, and the idea of a Teacher Village housing complex is still on the table.

"Once you recruit the teacher, there is no place for them to live," Manchin said. "So again, all of these things integrate with each other. You need a teacher, but they need a house. You need a road to be able to get to the house."

McDowell County lacks a modern, four-lane highway, so the group hopes to gain access to the King Coal Highway under construction from Williamson to Bluefield.

McDowell ranks last in the state in many health areas, with a premature death rate nearly double the state average and high rates of physical inactivity, adult smoking and obesity. The county also leads the U.S. for fatal prescription painkiller overdoses.

The plan hopes to tackle high teen pregnancy and dropout rates, behavioral health and substance abuse, poor nutrition and the lack of physical activity. A community health assessment would be completed by next year.

Goals to be completed by 2015 include implementing parenting and cooking classes for pregnant teens, identifying school child-care sites and establishing several community centers staffed with dentists, nurses and counselors.

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Online:

http://www.reconnectingmcdowell.org

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