Last updated: July 17. 2013 1:33PM - 340 Views

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Rachel Dove-Baldwin

Staff Writer

WILLIAMSON — “I would like to make a motion that we, as members of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce (TVCC), agree to go on record showing our support for the School Levy that is so important for Mingo County Students,” said Cecil Hatfield, board member and former director of the chamber.

Hatfield was speaking of the upcoming special election on Saturday, March 23, to authorize the continuation of the existing stand-alone school levy for the Mingo County students and school system. This special levy has been in effect since 1964. The most important thing that the citizens and voters should know, according to Mingo County Board of Education Superintendent Randy Keathley who was the guest speaker at the Feb. 11th meeting of the chamber, is that “this levy does not and will not raise taxes”.

The purpose of the levy is to continue funding for the Mingo County school system. This levy provides funding for such items as free textbooks, school equipment, library equipment, school repairs, coaches’ salaries and many other extracurricular activities that are provided such as band, choral and theater.

Following you will read an abbreviated and approximate breakdown of what the levy supports and the amount budgeted for each particular component.

• Free textbooks, school equipment and instructional supplies for all students; $1,052,576.

• Support for additional educational opportunities such as evening classes, summer school, remedial programs and extra-curricular trips; $200,000.

• Technology equipment and services to all schools; $345,414.

• Support for band, music, choral, and theater programs; $87,036.

• Support for academic competition and events like the spelling bee, social studies fair, math field day and robotics; $60,000

• Support for public and school libraries (including Mingo County Libraries, Williamson Public Library and Mingo County School Libraries); $200,000.

• Expanded career and technical education programs; $136,1666

• Instructional supplies and materials for classrooms; $50,000

• Support for health services including support for the Mingo County Health Department; $92,110

• Support for compliance with safety standards and security; $345,414

• Support for school repairs and renovations; $600,000

• Supplement employee benefits such as optical and dental; $400,000

• Support for professional personnel; $2,648,211

• Support for service personnel; $1,801,910

• Incentive for unused personal leave; $200,000

• Support for athletic and extra-curricular activities which helps maintain athletic programs; $217,707

• Support for the Mingo County Extension Service which includes 4-H, Archery and ATV safety programs; $30,000

• Salary support for supplemental assignments for coaches, trainers, etc. $240,350

• Classroom furniture upgrades; $100,000

• National Board Certification; $1,000

This bond levy, when approved, will be operational for 5 years, from fiscal year July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2018. The total approximate amount for the bond, after an allowance of discounts, delinquencies and exonerated is $8,843,894. The total amount to be expended during the term of the 5 year levy is approximately $44,219,470. The levy rates are assessed valuation of taxable property in the Mingo County School District.

Other matters discussed during the meeting was the success and popularity of the National Geographic’s “Digger’s” television show that aired 2 episodes taped in the local area, one being at the Randal McCoy (historical site with the Hatfield-McCoy feud) home place at Hardy, Ky. that is owned by Bob and Rita Scott, and the other being on Blair Mountain where the mine wars took place.

TVCC Executive Director Natalie Young addressed those in attendance and spoke of the impressive turnout for the “Cupid’s Shuffle” 5K run held this past Saturday in Williamson, and of the importance of turning our attention to the Hatfield and McCoy Reunion Festival slated for June 7-9, with the world-renowned Hatfield-McCoy Marathon scheduled for the 8th. Race organizer and President of the Tug Valley Roadrunners Club, David Hatfield, told the chamber members that thus far, the marathon registration has increased by approximately 150 percent from last year and stated that if this trend continues, he fully expects to have over 1,000 participants this June. The Tug Valley area played host to 577 runners and their family members in 2012.

Hatfield remarked that the biggest problem or stumbling block he perceives as a hindrance for the festival is the lack of lodging facilities in Mingo County, and expressed his thoughts on why he personally feels that individuals or businesses have not invested in building hotels/motels in Williamson and its surrounding towns.

“We still don’t believe in ourselves and the financial opportunities that are standing right in front of us,” said Hatfield. “Our area has been in that woe is me, we don’t have anything – we’ll never have anything, mind set for far too long. With some people, that negative mentality and attitude will never change. You have a few who may change with the proper guidance and motivation, and we’re blessed to have others who have hit the ground running and are on fire to bring tourism to Mingo County but they can’t do it alone. We all need to get on board and take advantage of this awesome opportunity that will never pass this way again. We’ve got to keep feeding the fire or the flame is going to go out.”

For more information on the Hatfield and McCoy Reunion Festival or to volunteer your time to assist the race organizers, you may contact Young at her office located inside the historical Coal House by calling 304-235-5240, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

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