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Statehouse beat: CPPs are popular among legislators

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Logan County reader called to say the local paper had recently carried separate photos of giant check presentations with different groups of local legislators, but both to the Buffalo Creek Watershed Association.

I told him that sounded like Community Participation Partnership Grants. CPPs became the preferred way for legislators to fund home-district projects following the demise of the infamous Budget Digest in 2006.

As the reader described, its not unusual for delegates in multi-member districts to obtain multiple small grants for the same project, or to work with senators to turn several small grants into a nice little funding source.

(Unlike the Budget Digest, the CPPs come with a little hitch: the governor's office has to sign off on them.)

From last Sept. 1 to this Aug. 1, 637 CPP grants have been approved, totaling $3,425,754 -- or an average of $5,378 per grant.

Denominations range from $1,000 (multiple times) to $50,000 (for Beckley Little League field improvements, requested by Sen. Mike Green, D-Raleigh. Delegates Moye, O'Neal, Snuffer, Mahan and Sumner got an additional $9,000 for facility and upgrades for Beckley to host the state Little League tournament.)

Grants to Little Leagues, or for improvements to parks or athletic fields were popular, accounting for 67 appropriations.

Larger grants in that category included $15,000 for improvements at Glendale Park in Elkins (Sen. Barnes), a total of $15,000 for Vinson Little League field improvements (Sens. Jenkins and Plymale), a total of $18,500 for upgrades and improvements to Kenova Dreamland Park (Sens. Jenkins, Plymale, Delegate Perdue), $33,500 for Martinsburg football field and concession stand improvements (Sen. Snyder), $10,000 for Nitro Little League improvements (Delegates Lane, Walters), $40,000 for Pleasants County pool repairs (Sens. Boley and Nohe), and a total of $15,000 for installing lights at Terra Alta Youth League fields (Sen. Sypolt, Delegate Shaver).

(By the way, I did note a $5,000 grant for the Buffalo Creek Watershed, requested by Delegate Rupert Phillips Jr., D-Logan ...)

***

Still haven't had any luck reaching Agnes Jane Greer Corp. president Lauren Kelley Driscoll of Stamford, Conn., regarding her plans for AJG's pending acquisition of WCLG AM-FM in Morgantown.

Interestingly, considering how quickly West Virginia Radio Corp. executives jumped on the Daily Mail to demand clarifications for allegedly misinterpreting the value of the company's bid for West Virginia University's third tier rights, I have yet to receive a single phone call, email or letter disputing anything I've written concerning the assertion that AJG is a front company for West Virginia Radio to allow it to evade FCC limits on the number of radio stations WVRC may legally own in the Morgantown-Clarksburg market.

(Assuming AJG is a front, WVRC already is over the limit, with one AM and six FMs, even without the WCLG acquisition.)

I believe the FCC's deadline to file a petition to deny or to submit informal objections regarding the transfer of ownership comes up on Wednesday.

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Update on Susan Perry and Jennifer Taylor's whistleblower suit against the Department of Health and Human Resources: The governor's office has retained Bryan Cokeley of Steptoe and Johnson as counsel regarding dispositions of former deputy chief of staff Erica Mani.

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One new state office building done, one about to begin: The long-delayed $15.9 million state office building in Logan opened last month, while work has just gotten underway on the new state office building in Fairmont.

That contract was awarded to P.J. Dick Corp. for $17.2 million.

Meanwhile, Capitol Complex Building 3, commonly known as the DMV building, is approaching its third anniversary of sitting vacant.

However, there is some work going on, primarily asbestos abatement and general interior demolition, in anticipation of finalizing a less ambitious design plan.

In 2011, bids for the renovation -- which then called for conference rooms with floor-to-ceiling "telepresence" video-conference screens, restoration of the lobby to its original circa-1951 appearance, and a reception hall with adjacent kitchen -- all came in over budget.

The revised renovation project has an estimated cost of $30.6 million, or about $3 million less than the low bid in 2011.

***

Finally, congratulations to the playoff-bound West Virginia Power for a terrific season, and to Robert "Wheeler Bob" Friedman for marking 40 years as the super salesman at Charleston ballgames.

(Unfortunately, Bob has toned down his routine over the years. He no longer encourages fans to come back for Handguns and Hard Liquor night, or touts the legendary Boone County fortune cookie -- a Tudor biscuit with a food stamp inside ...)

Also, a tip of the cap to Brent Szarka and the Power grounds crew for keeping the field at Appalachian Power Park looking good, despite being in use for nearly 70 Power games, 13 West Virginia University games, nine state high school championship games, a total of about 25 small college games, MMA events, and myriad other turf-wearing events.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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