Short Takes: About utilities and investment
ONCE upon a time, people did not worry about their electric bills, or their water or phone bills for that matter. There was no reason to fuss and fume about rate hikes.
Why is that?
They didn't have such services.
It's easy to take utilities for granted. You flip the switch, and the room is illuminated. Press a key and the computer screen is at the ready.
Life without such amenities seems like ancient history.
However, enormous amounts of money and effort over decades made these services possible. Just as with a new house or car, the initial investment was only the beginning.
Appalachian Power announced this week it will embark on a $337 million upgrade of transmission lines, and most of that work will take place in the Kanawha Valley.
Some of the lines to be replaced date to the 1940s. The work will help ensure reliable service into the future.
The state Public Service Commission scrutinizes utility company expenditures, and rightfully so. However, the cost of the work must be reflected on local power bills.
It's part of the price we pay for lives far more comfortable than those of our ancestors.
THE West Virginia Blue Ribbon Highway Commission will hold nine public hearings around the state during July and August.
Officials will present the findings of a comprehensive study of road conditions, highway needs and possible sources of additional funding.
The meetings will be held in Beckley, Elkins, Fairmont, Huntington, Logan, Martinsburg, Parkersburg, Princeton and Wheeling between July 11 and Aug. 15.
As most West Virginians know, phrases like "possible sources of additional funding" means taxes. They also know that the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles has made current gasoline taxes a wholly inadequate source of revenue for road work.
Andrea Sachs, writing recently in the Washington Post of her 1,000-mile exploration of the state, noted, among other things, this: "On occasion I would slip out of the state and into a borderland. One night, while bumbling around Mingo County in the dark, I ended up in Kentucky. Driving from Point Pleasant to Wheeling, I purposely detoured to Ohio to take advantage of the state's faster and flatter interstates and sturdier cellphone service. I shamelessly used Pennsylvania for the same reasons."
Perhaps not all tax suggestions should be rejected out of hand.
WEST Virginia's windows to the world get larger all the time, and they pop up in the most unexpected places. The WVU Extension Office offers just one of those portals.
A recent news brief contained notice that nutrition outreach counselor Nancy Bremar was offering a free six-week course called "Cooking around the World." Classes feature door prizes, hands-on cooking, taste-testing and hundreds of healthy, good-tasting, easy-to-make recipes.
Location: The Grantsville Volunteer Fire Department building in Grantsville, Calhoun County.
Population as of the 2010 Census: 565 souls.
Now that's outreach.