EVERY 17 years or so, like the arrival of buzzing cicadas, some group pops up to announce a comprehensive update of Who Owns West
This is the state and county-by-county compilation of the top landowners in West Virginia.
The hoary Who Owns West Virginia enterprise, nearly 40 years old, should be trademarked, with residuals going to its originator, a now-retired Huntington newspaper reporter. (Just who owns the Who Owns West Virginia franchise?)
To compile these rankings takes a lot of poring through county assessor records, for sure.
The vast expenditure of time is about all that distinguishes the resulting lists in importance from the National League standings or the adjusted cost of buying the gifts itemized in the Twelve Days of Christmas. (Four colly birds will run you about $45 plus tax.)
This time, the left-leaning West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and the American Friends Service Committee report that, again, large out-of-state timber and mineral companies own large (no, make that very large) tracts of timber and mineral lands. Upon hearing this news again, we are supposed to collectively shake our heads in sadness.
The Who Owns West Virginia kind of conclusions is akin to the information that the Ford Motor Co. has big factories that make lots of cars and trucks and that Coke outsells Pepsi. (What? You didn't know?)
I am far more fascinated to learn from the current edition that Hancock County's largest landowner is the Fairview Presbyterian Church.
With 4,324 acres, the congregation owns 6.5 percent of the surface in that county, edging out the horse track and the steel mill in their landholdings. Can the Presbyterians of New Cumberland thus be charged as
The Webster County 4H Club, controlling 4,377 acres, is one of the top landowners there. At least one H now stands for Hegemony. A telling indicator of vitality in Wirt County is that the No. 4 landowner there is Oak Hill Plaza Pizza Hut Inc. Imagine the pie chart illustration.