Legislative leaders call for review of RISE West Virginia program

Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) and House Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) have formally requested that the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding reexamine the RISE West Virginia program. (Department of Commerce)

By: Jarrod Clay, Kennie Bass, Jeff Morris | Posted: May 23, 2018 | Source: WCHSTV

Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) and House Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) have formally requested that the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding reexamine the RISE West Virginia program.

In a letter sent to the committee, Carmichael and Armstead said,” Many questions and concerns have arisen regarding the management of the West Virginia RISE program, contracts awarded by the program and use of funding the program is charged with administering. I am sure you will agree that flood survivors who are awaiting assistance, as well as the taxpayers, want to ensure that we obtain answers to these questions. We are, therefore, requesting the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding hold one of more public meetings to examine the management of the West Virginia RISE program at the earliest opportunity.”

Read the complete letter here:

Letter to Flood Committee by WCHS/WVAH on Scribd

This comes on the heels of an Eyewitness News iTeam investigation into questions swirling about West Virginia’s flood recovery program.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said Wednesday he wants a review of LLP/RISE WV, which was contracted by the state Department of Commerce to assist those affected by the June 2016 flood.

“I am completely dissatisfied with the performance of Horne, LLP aka RISE WV and the efforts they have made to help the citizens of Kanawha County that were affected by the flooding that occurred two years ago,” Carper said in a news release. “These citizens deserve to be helped so they can have their homes back.”

Our iTeam investigation found that in the aftermath of that disaster, millions of dollars in donations poured into the state and last august, Gov. Jim Justice announced the formation of the Rise West Virginia Disaster Recovery Program, but many people are still in need.

RISE WV was introduced as a way to repair and reconstruct single family homes and rental units which were damaged in June of 2016. But many disaster victims say instead it’s been a bureaucratic nightmare and nearly two years after the high water receded, they are no closer to having their lives put back together.

On Tuesday, several top lawmakers, including Sen. Ed Gaunch, R-Kanawha, and House Speaker Tim Armstead, said the program has failed those who needed it most.

In Kanawha County, at least 288 residents who were affected by the floods have requested assistance from RISE WVA and have not been approved for assistance, the news release from the Kanawha County Commission said. The Kanawha County Planning Office has been attempting to obtain information from Rise WV regarding the applications and were told the information could not be shared with the county’s Planning Office.

“I want answers. I believe the Legislature and the Legislative Auditor’s Office should consider this matter and determine if RISE WV has been paid for services they have actually performed,” Carper said.

Carper commended members of the Legislature who have raised issues about the RISE WV program.

“Senator Gaunch, Senator Ferns, Speaker Armstead and others, and I stand with them and believe a complete inquiry needs to be completed,” Carper said.

Below is a news release the Kanawha Commission’s news release and copies of letters Carper has sent to officials calling for the legislative review:

RISE WV Press Release by Anna Taylor on Scribd

EnAct completes community needs assessment

Posted: May 22, 2018 | Source: WV Gazette-Mail Metro Kanawha

Serving low-income families in Kanawha, Putnam, Fayette, Clay and Boone counties, EnAct Community Action has completed its three-year Comprehensive Community Needs Assessment, the agency announced recently.

The Community Needs Assessment is collected to develop a comprehensive report of key findings about local community conditions to be used by EnAct Community Action and its partners for planning, education and outreach, and resource leveraging and mobilization efforts.

In Kanawha, Putnam and Fayette counties, the Community Needs Assessment oversaw public meetings in mid-April in Chesapeake, Gauley Bridge and Buffalo.

The objectives of this project were to:

  • Conduct a local assessment of needs by compiling county-level data.
  • Collect and analyze primary data by gathering community feedback through surveys and community discussions.
  • Collect and analyze secondary data by researching national, state, and local data sources.
  • Utilize data collected in EnAct’s customer outcome tracking system.
  • Facilitate a planning and analysis process with community partners that identifies priority needs in each county served by EnAct.

The process to develop the Comprehensive Community Needs Assessment involved community meetings, surveys completed by program participants and a separate survey completed by service providers. In addition, basic research data, demographics and other data on the five-county EnAct service area are included in the report.

“I think the communities will be pleased with the report and should find it extremely helpful in their planning processes” EnAct CEO Brent Pauley said in a media release. “This has been a thorough, three-month project, and we attempted to get input from every stakeholder possible.”

The Community Needs Assessment is available at no charge to any individual, community organization or business to assist them in providing needed services to the low-income individuals and families in the five-county service area.

As well as individual county reports, a complete copy of the final report may be found under the “Resources” tab on EnAct’s website at www.EnActWV.org

To obtain an electronic copy of the report, contact Kesha Walton at 304-414-4475.

EnAct Community Action specializes in education assistance, employment assistance, nutrition and other areas that affect low- income individuals and families.

For more information on EnAct Community Action, call 304-414-4475, or visit your nearest EnAct Community Action office. Locations may be found online at www.EnActWV.org.

Locally, the telephone contact numbers are: Charleston Service Office, 304-414-4475; Chesapeake Service Office, 304-949-6077; Clendenin Service Office, 304-548-5392; Hurricane Service Office, 304-562-6037 and Montgomery Service Office, 304-442-2018.

Did You Know? – Country Road House and Berries

The month of May means the strawberries are ripe for the picking at Country Road House and Berries in Clendenin, West Virginia! Place an order, find them at the Capitol Market in Charleston, or pick your own berries in one of their 2 acre strawberry fields. Join us as we visit with Angela and John Born at their Bed & Breakfast and strawberry farm location just off of Gabe Creek Road in Clendenin.


Meet Your Mayor – Shana Clendenin

CLENDENIN, W.Va. – The Clendenin Leader had an opportunity to sit down with Clendenin, West Virginia Mayor, Shana Clendenin. Not only did we learn about Mayor Clendenin, and why she decided to run for mayor, we also talked about the progress that has been made during her past 11 months in office. In addition to the upcoming Clendenin Homecoming Festival June 22-24, 2018, Clendenin is now a prime location for recreation and tourism based economic development.

A very important event coming up on Saturday, June 2, 2018 is the Elk River Clean-up. This is a great opportunity for the community to get involved and make a difference for the Elk River area. We plan to have more sit down discussions with Mayor Clendenin in the future to keep the Clendenin community informed and encourage everyone to get involved in the great things that are going on in the town of Clendenin.

Town of Clendenin Encourages Public to Attend Comprehensive Plan Meeting


Contact: Town of Clendenin (304) 548-4192


Town of Clendenin Encourages Public to Attend Comprehensive Plan Meeting

What are the biggest issues facing the Town of Clendenin? The Clendenin Planning Commission is hosting a community meeting to gather citizen input on creating the Town’s comprehensive plan.  All residents, business owners, and other interested persons are invited and encouraged to attend the meeting, which is being held on Thursday, April 26, 2018 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Town Hall at 103 First Street.

The meeting will be in an open house format to accommodate citizens’ schedules.  Interested persons can stop by anytime from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM to offer ideas, voice concerns, and help formulate a vision for the future of Clendenin.

Why is the town engaged in a planning process? When communities do not plan, they fail to take advantage of their opportunities.  The Town of Clendenin has many strengths and advantages, but the town has challenges as well.  The plan will recommend specific projects to address the issues and concerns that are voiced throughout the planning process.

The plan is being facilitated by the Planning Commission. For more information, please call the Town of Clendenin at (304) 548-4192.


Promotional Flyers To Distribute – JPG | PDF
Community Meeting Agenda – PDF

2019 Fiscal Year Budget Publication For Town of Clendenin

Fiscal Year July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019
Levy Estimate – Budget Document


In accordance with Code 11-8-14, as amended, the Council proceeded to make an estimate of the amounts necessary to be raised by levy of taxes for the current fiscal year, and does determine and estimate the several amounts to be as follows:

The amount due and the amount that will become due and collectible from every source during the fiscal year INCLUDING THE LEVY OF TAXES, is as follows:

2019 Fiscal Year Budget Publication for Town of Clendenin, WV Page 1 of 3

Download 2019 Fiscal Year Budget Publication for Town of Clendenin, WV [PDF]

Growing Concern For Hungry Residents In West Virginia

By: Stacy Nelson | Posted Mar. 11, 2018

Town of Clendenin

In June 2016, southern portions of West Virginia were devastated by what experts called, “The Thousand Year Flood”. As the flood waters began to recede, assistance came from far and near to begin the cleanup process, and to deliver food, water, and necessary living supplies. Faith based organizations and volunteers continue to assist with rebuilding efforts in these communities nearly two years after floods ravaged the region. One of those communities still receiving assistance, is the small incorporated Town of Clendenin in northern Kanawha County, home to West Virginia’s Capitol, located in nearby Charleston.

Clendenin Town Hall

The Town of Clendenin has a Mayor, Town Council, decorated Fire Department, Police Department, and even a newly created Planning Commission, all of which have been diligently working together, along with state and federal government organizations, to rebuild the town. Clendenin is only 20 miles north of Charleston, just off of Interstate 79. It sits along the Elk River, which is enjoyed by kayakers as well as musky and bass fisherman. Current plans and discussions, among the Clendenin Planning Commission revolve around the development of a quaint bedroom community to Charleston, focused on recreational tourism and the creation of community gardens on now-vacant properties. Volunteers in the community are working non-stop on these efforts. The Clendenin Homecoming Festival is slated to occur June 22-24, 2018, and plans are in place to make it an annual event where the town hopes to attract thousands of visitors and generate additional revenue for local small businesses that are gradually re-opening.

Smith’s Foodfair, sole grocery store within town limits,  has not reopened after the 2016 Flood.

Even with the many positive initiatives and accomplishments, which are discussed daily among this close-knit community, most outside of the area are completely unaware of an underlying issue that plagues Clendenin and other communities affected by the 2016 Floods.

Many of the residents in and around Clendenin, West Virginia are hungry!

They simply do not have enough food each month to feed their families. Many children in the community only receive a hot meal while they are at school, and wouldn’t have food over the weekend if it were not for non-profit organizations like Elk River Backpack Blessings. In addition, there are numerous families in the community who do not have electricity, running water, or basic living supplies. Others are homeless. Clendenin needs help!

I have only been visiting Clendenin for about six months, however it is abundantly clear to me from my numerous conversations with residents who have called Clendenin and/or the Elk River Valley “home” for all or most of their lives, that this region was economically depressed and struggling prior to the 2016 Flood. Local employment opportunities were limited and the general consensus among those in the community is that the flood simply escalated the deprivation that had been facing them for several years. It destroyed nearly every small business in the Town of Clendenin, including the largest employer; a local grocery store, which provided approximately 50 jobs. The store has still not been re-established, and as of this writing, there are no immediate plans to do so.

Clendenin United Methodist Church

I recently wrote an article about the emergency food pantry, which is located at the Clendenin United Methodist Church, and was curious to learn about other organizations or individuals that were helping those with ongoing needs. My curiosity, along with the assistance of some locals, led me to Crystal Hawkins. Crystal works as the Care Coordinator for the Clendenin Health Center, and is in charge of the Center’s Community Outreach Program. The Clendenin Health Center, also referred to locally as “The Clinic” or “The Health Center”,  is located in the original section of the old Clendenin Middle School building at 107 Koontz Avenue in Clendenin. It is owned by Cabin Creek Health Systems. In addition to providing medical services to patients in the Elk River Valley communities, this facility has an outreach program that helps those in need throughout their service area, which includes Kanawha, Clay, Roane, and Jackson Counties.

I sat down with Crystal in her office and was quite impressed to learn that Cabin Creek requires their administrative staff to participate in two community outreach projects, and two community care projects, per year. Each staff member is able to select the type of projects they want to be involved in. As part of Crystal’s community outreach requirements with Cabin Creek Health Systems, she chose to work with those in the community that were in dire need of basic living essentials.

Crystal’s position places her in front of each patient, where she is a firsthand witness, to the continuous and growing needs within the community. She provides items and services of all kinds; from common everyday needs including food, to figuring out how to help individuals pay their utility bills. She also calls patients on a daily basis to make sure they are taking their medicine, and that they have food, water, and other necessary items. It was abundantly clear to me, that she and the others at The Health Center, are on a mission to help in any way they can and seem excited about the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those within the community. Crystal is a resident of neighboring Roane County, West Virginia and also volunteers with the Roane County Schools, who accept donations of new or lightly worn clothes, shoes, personal hygiene items, as well as food. These items are then distributed to the students there in need, during school hours, through their individual school pantries.

Clendenin Health Center

Crystal, her colleagues and staff at The Health Center, have established a secured space at the facility to store donated items. They first assess individual and/or family needs, then distribute supplies out of this space accordingly. She gave me a tour of the space and what I saw spoke volumes to me regarding their selfless efforts. It was quite obvious that the space they had converted to assist these individuals and/or families within the community, had formerly been their employee lounge.

Crystal explained that volunteers are in place to prepare and serve hot meals, but they are in need of a facility with a commercial kitchen, a food truck, or a way to deliver meals to those who cannot travel. I could see the concern on her face as she explained the severity of hunger in the community. “There are numerous people in the community that do not have hot food or a way to even prepare hot food”. She went on to explain that meals used to be provided at the Recreation Center in Clendenin, but that facility can no longer be used due to flood damage to the kitchen there. At the time of this interview, The Health Center was ready to prepare and feed the hungry, but have no location with a commercial kitchen and the necessary space to do so.

The sheer compassion that Crystal displayed when speaking about the local hunger issue gave me chills, and in order to better understand the total scope of need within the community, I wanted to understand the severity of all non-hunger related needs as well. She explained that while everyone’s priorities are different, they could all be categorized as “necessary living essentials”. She reiterated that they do not provide items that are unnecessary or support personal habits. When the immediate needs of a patient are met, they try to identify long term solutions for patients. Resources have been limited however. According to Crystal, many in the community are left without things like food and clean running water. She echoed the opinion of others I have been speaking with, saying there has “always been a need in the community but it has gotten worse since the flood.” She went on to explain that numerous people do not have access to transportation and are not well enough physically to ride the public bus line that services Clendenin.

The Clendenin Health Center works closely with the Clendenin Ministerial Association to provide hot showers for those without running water and volunteers help with laundry needs. In regards to these specific issues, Crystal stated with much empathy, “Sadly enough, Clendenin didn’t bounce back as quickly as people thought it would after the flood”. She went on to say that they did not have a firm, total number of people with extreme needs in the community, on an ongoing basis, because there are still many individuals and families who are not patients at the clinic, but in dire need of assistance.

It took many businesses in the Town of Clendenin a year before they were able to re-open their doors, and several are still closed. As mentioned previously, Clendenin still does not have a grocery store, and both of their schools were relocated after the flood, to portable trailers at neighboring schools in Elkview, West Virginia. According to FEMA and other government agencies at a recent public meeting, it could be years years before construction is complete on Clendenin Elementary, and the same for Herbert Hoover High School, which is at risk of not even returning to the Clendenin area.

Maywood Avenue, Clendenin, West Virginia

I’ve known since the moment I stepped foot in Clendenin, West Virginia, that the people here genuinely care about one another, and that was reaffirmed when I learned that until recently, Crystal and other staff members at The Health Center were using their own personal money to purchase food and items that patients were in desperate need of. I believe the fact that the most requested item that Crystal receives, after food, is adult briefs for incontinence. This reinforces the fact that the need is real, and that the need is dire.

From my conversations with those in the community, the perception is that several of those with ongoing needs are employed, but not earning enough to meet their basic needs due to low wages and/or lack of workable hours from their employer(s). Others are simply unable to locate employment at all. Many seniors and disabled residents, who are physically unable to work but may be receiving benefits, are still struggling each month just to make ends meet, often going without food.

Emergency Food Pantry

Susan Jack, with The Clendenin Leader, visited students from Clendenin/Bridge Elementary and Elkview Middle Schools, to get their response to the teacher strike that closed schools in all 55 counties in West Virginia for nine days recently. To Susan’s surprise, the students’ number one fear about the teacher strike was a genuine concern for other students whose only meal often comes from school. On that day, the Clendenin Health Center volunteered to feed hungry students at the Clendenin Fire Department and, after the announcement on social media, several Herbert Hoover High School students took to Facebook and Twitter to offer free rides to anyone who was hungry.

The people of Clendenin, West Virginia are resilient. They are compassionate, kind, and care deeply about one another. They have a mindset that is admirable and respectable. They are good people, but I can honestly say the same thing about West Virginians as a whole. Unfortunately, West Virginia ranks as the worst state in the United States for business, ranking 50th for Economy and 49th for Workforce, according to a 2017 CNBC Report . A recent Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity Study found that 45% of West Virginian’s living in poverty are single-parent families with children. With businesses and educated young people leaving the state for better opportunities, how will we recover, and when will hunger not be the primary concern facing the state of West Virginia?

There are several ways you can get involved. Even a small donation can make a monumental difference.

Donated food (non-perishables) and supplies to help the Town of Clendenin, West Virginia and surrounding communities, can be dropped off or shipped to:

Clendenin Health Center
c/o Food Pantry
107 Koontz Avenue
Clendenin, WV 25045

Phone calls can be directed to Crystal Hawkins at (304) 548-7272 and emails can be sent to chawkins@cchcwv.com.

Requested items for the Clendenin Health Center include the following:

  • Non-perishable food items like canned and boxed food, granola bars, protein bars, pudding, peanut butter, canned fruit, crackers, canned soup, bottled water, etc.
  • Personal hygiene items including deodorant, soap, shampoo, razors, feminine products, baby wipes, baby diapers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, adult briefs, etc.
  • Household items & clothing including blankets, warm hats, scarves, gloves, coats, etc.
  • A location to prepare and distribute hot meals to the hungry, which would require a commercial kitchen. Once in place they will need food to prepare for them as well as supplies like paper plates, cups, and utensils.

The emergency food pantry, located at the Clendenin United Methodist Church, is operated by the Clendenin Ministerial Association. Donations can be dropped off there on Tuesdays 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Clendenin United Methodist Church, 121 Koontz Avenue, Clendenin, West Virginia 25045.

Roane County School Pantry: Contact: Shawnee Jarrell – sgjarrel@k12.wv.us. Items requested include socks, underwear, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, pencils, paper backpacks, sweatpants, sweatshirts, feminine hygiene products, non-perishable food.

Elk River Blessings: Contact Debi O’Dell (304) 767-0699. View complete list of needs HERE