CHARLESTON, W.Va. – As West Virginia prepares for impending winter weather, Katie Everly is among the snowplow drivers statewide who are preparing to work 12-hour shifts to keep the roads clear and safe, according to a release from the West Virginia Department of Transportation. Five years ago, Everly was struggling with drug addiction. Her story is a shining example of West Virginians working together for the good of all West Virginians.
On Thursday, Jan. 27, Gov. Jim Justice publicly lauded her during his annual State of the State address as a success story for his Jobs & Hope West Virginia Program, designed to help state residents with substance abuse problems kick their habits and move back into the workforce.
“Our Jobs & Hope program is doing all kinds of neat stuff,” Justice said before recognizing Everly. “We have touched 1,540 individuals that have now gone out and gotten jobs in West Virginia and there are 1,600 more people that are in the program.”
Through a collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and state Department of Education, Jobs & Hope offers a personalized plan for each participant in the program outlining education and career opportunities to get off drugs and into the workplace.
With one-on-one help, it worked for Everly.
“It’s amazing to be here,” Everly said. “To overcome what I did takes a lot of hard work, dedication, determination and willingness to want a better life.”
Everly, a West Virginia Division of Highways Transportation Worker in Ohio County, was hired in September 2021.
“Ever since she came through the door, she’s been a ball of fire,” said District 6 Engineer Tony Clark.
Eager to make the best of her opportunity, Everly rushed to complete work to get her CDL, just in time to join snow removal and ice control crews battling West Virginia’s winter weather. She now drives a one-ton snowplow, an important job that she enjoys.
“My truck, she’s new to the fleet,” said Everly. “There have been some ups and downs, but I’ve learned to work her properly. We get along.”
Clark wasn’t aware Everly had gone through the Jobs & Hope program when he hired her. She had disclosed much of her background during the interview process, but her work ethic and jump-in, get-it-done spirit impressed him. He thought it was important to take a chance with her.
“I don’t think it’s fair to judge someone for a mistake they’ve made,” Clark said. “If they’ve made changes to correct it, it’s imperative to give them a second chance. With many West Virginians in this situation, this is something West Virginia needs.”
Statewide, snowplow drivers like Katie are preparing for another round of winter weather. And when the weather warms up and summer returns, Katie, along with Transportation Workers around the state, will be maintaining the roads with activities such as ditching, pothole milling and filling, and otherwise gaining ground on years of underfunded road maintenance to make Governor Justice’s vision for West Virginia’s roads a reality.