Jim King column

Dear Gov. Justice,

Maybe the 3rd time will prove the charm. I’m asking you yet again to please come visit Hampshire County, seemingly the only county in the state that you’ve skipped in your campaigns for and terms as governor. 

This time, there’s a good reason. 

Contractors are wrapping up work on the new John Blue Bridge over the South Branch between Romney and Springfield. It’s scheduled to open both lanes in mid-November. 

That means we could have a ribbon-cutting ceremony — just like you’ve showed up for all over the other end of the state when chunks of new highway or new bridges have opened. 

Surely we’re worth the same treatment that those places get. Aren’t we? 

If you want added incentive, you could stick your nose in the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind — the school that your Department of Education suddenly realized it had been ignoring for some years and swooped in to save it (from itself). 

Two photo ops for the price of 1 trip! Think about it. 

Seriously. 

I’m sure Ruth Rowan would love to show you around. Both the bridge and the state school lie in her district and she is the longest-serving Republican in the House of Delegates. 

Delegate Rowan came to your place to check out Babydog for the Legislature. Return the favor.

It’s time, governor. 

You skipped us when you ran for office both times. 

As we have noted before, in the run-up to the October 2017 special election on the big road bond that you made a swing through the Eastern Panhandle that included visits to Mineral, Hardy, Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties — but not Hampshire, even though I’m pretty sure you had to pass through here to get to some of those stops. 

We asked you to visit shortly after you took office in early 2017. We asked again 2 years ago. Now we’re asking a 3rd time. 

What gives, Jim? 

There’s some political firepower around these parts that you might make happy with a visit this direction. 

Besides Ruth Rowan’s looooong tenure, the House Speaker, Gary Howell, is the next county over. Two of the senate’s most powerful members, Craig Blair and Charles Trump, count Hampshire as part of their district. 

One of your top aides, Daryl Cowles, represented the eastern third of Hampshire. 

Do it for them if not for us. 

Do it for Babydog. 

Oh, wait. That slogan has already been taken. 

Yes, I know we’re 5 hours from Charleston and that’s a long trip to make (shorter by helicopter, hint, hint). We know how long it is because people from Hampshire have to make that long trek to get to the state capital all the time. 

And you’ve made the reverse commute exactly … never. 

You know, Governor, all the combined state employees who work in Hampshire County make your government the 2nd largest employer here. That ought to count for something in planning your itinerary. 

At the same time, it also ought to serve as a signal for a great reason we’d like to see you here. Hampshire County needs jobs. It’s sort of a shame that the state is the factor in our local labor market that it is. 

If you could see the state of our roads, the worse state of our broadband capabilities and what we have to offer in proximity to Maryland and Virginia, maybe you could help us reach our potential as an economic catalyst for West Virginia. 

Good jobs here would draw residents and retail businesses that would benefit not just Hampshire, but the whole state. 

You could see our history, too. We’re the oldest county in the state and Romney is the oldest town in the state despite what those pikers from Shepherdstown try to claim. 

But you won’t see any of this if you don’t come visit. 

Mark it on your calendar, Jim. Come to Hampshire County. 

Finally. o

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