Last updated: July 17. 2013 1:34PM - 314 Views

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Julia Roberts Goad


Staff Writer


CHARLESTON — The West Virginia House of Delegates was filled with Mingo Countians as one of the county’s own was honored for his dedication to his community.


The King Coal Highway (KCH), both the parts already constructed and all future sections of the road, will be known as the Mike Whitt Visionary Leadership Highway.


Whitt was the Executive Director of the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (MCRA) for over twenty years at the time of his death on Thanksgiving 2011.


Under Whitt’s direction, MCRA led the county to economic diversification projects such as the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System, a fish hatchery, the wood products industrial park and the coat-to-liquids plant currently under development.


Mike Whitt’s wife, Regina, said even after he became ill, he still wanted to do what he could for Mingo County.


“Once, we were in a doctor’s office, and the doctor asked Mike what he loved in life, how he might want to spend his time. ‘I love my job!’ Mike told him, then he added, ‘And of course my family,.’” said, laughing as she shared the memory in the state capitol after the Speaker of the Delegates had passed the resolution honoring her husband.


“This means a lot to us,” she said. “He worked hard for it, he loved the county so much.”


In a letter requesting the Legislature name the highway after Whitt, the Mingo County Commission recognized the contributions Whitt has made to the county.


“It is not often that a county is blessed with a native son like Mike Whitt,” the MCC said. “His lifelong passion for Mingo County and his desire for its prosperity is unmatched. In both his personal and business lives Mike endeavored to make Mingo County a place where not only its current residents can live the American dream but also future generations could grow and prosper.”


The KCH will run through McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Wyoming and Wayne Counties along currently existing US Route 52. The highway will It ultimately will cover approximately 90 miles of southern West Virginia, opening it up to faster, safer transportation.


The highway project is being developed as the result of a private-public partnership between two coal companies, the Department of Highways and the MCRA.


In a letter requesting the Legislature name the highway after Whitt, the Mingo County Commission recognized the contributions Whitt has made to the county.


“It is not often that a county is blessed with a native son like Mike Whitt,” the MCC said. “His lifelong passion for Mingo County and his desire for its prosperity is unmatched. In both his personal and business lives Mike endeavored to make Mingo County a place where not only its current residents can live the American dream but also future generations could grow and prosper.”


Whitt has been called “an exceptional leader” by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, “a rare breed; a thinker and a doer” By Congressman Nick Joe Rahall, “a true son of Mingo County” by former Delegate and current MCRA Executive Director Steve Kominar and “a visionary” by Senator Joe Manchin.


“I believe in my heart that Mike Whitt, more than anyone I’ve ever known, was born to make Mingo County a better place…and that, he did,” said MCRA Deputy Director Leasha Johnson.


“The King Coal Highway is just one of the projects Mike envisioned that would lead to the Mingo County of his dreams. Placing his name upon the King Coal Highway is a fitting tribute to Mike Whitt that is only the beginning of the legacy. We believe is to come from his efforts for our County,” the letter by County Commissioners said.



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