MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs held one of its statewide listening tours Wednesday evening at the Courtyard by Marriott in Morgantown.
The listening tour was launched in August to hear what communities need and how the state’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation can help. Minority affairs officials will be continuing to conduct the listening tour throughout the Mountain State until December 2022.
The Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs will be making stops in all 55 counties. Much of the discussion in the meeting was about infrastructure and expansion of broadband with connectivity.
“So, what we are doing with the state funding, we will allocate it to the counties. The legislature will have the final say so, but the governor will make a request based on this tour as to what the needs are in each county,” said Jill Upson, executive director of the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs. “I think in the six counties that I have gone thus far, because I did have a morning meeting here in Monongalia County with some of the elected leaders, what we are seeing is that a lot of longstanding issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”
Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act to stimulate the nation’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state has been allocated $1.6 billion in the American Rescue Plan Act.
“It is really heartbreaking to see that there is so much need, not just in families, but in the communities themselves. And so, I am hearing a lot about infrastructure issues, I am hearing a lot about blight issues, buildings that are a danger to the community that need to be torn down. So, I think this tour is really instructive because there is a lot of suffering out there,” Upson said.
Topics of discussion include:
- Pandemic-related challenges
- Targeting greatest needs
- Making an impact
- Pooling resources
At each stop, the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs team will meet with local community leaders, followed by a public forum where all community members are invited to receive information and share their ideas.
The next stop will be at the Falcon Center at Fairmont State University, in the third-floor conference rooms, on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 6:30 p.m.