Spirit of Environmental Protection Award to Bill Hughes of Wetzel County

by Duane Nichols on October 17, 2016

Bill Hughes in Wetzel County

WV-DEP Recognizes Bill Hughes for Public Service & Community Involvement

From an Article of the State Journal, Page 25, October 14, 2016

William (Bill) J. Hughes of Wetzel County has received the Spirit of Environment Protection Award from the WV Department of Environmental Protection (WV-DEP).

“Mr. Hughes exemplifies what it means to be an engaged citizen, and his commitment to environmental protection is an inspiration to many,” said John M. S. King, environmental resource analyst with the Office of Environmental Advocate.  “He dedicates countless hours at great personal expense each year to  public education and community involvement.”

In 2015 Hughes served on a panel discussion at West Virginia State University and participated in speaking engagements across the region, including the Appalachian Institute, Wheeling Jesuit University, West Virginia University College of Law and Water Resource Conference of the Virginias.

In addition, he provided experiential tours of Wetzel County gas fields for educational institutions and non-profit organizations.  He also was able to identify and effectively communicate several environmental concerns with industry representatives and WV-DEP officials. His detailed and informative communications helped prevent further impacts to the environment and demonstrated how an effective citizen reporting system should work.

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New OVEC director looking forward to growing organization

From an Article by Jeff Jenkins, MetroNews, October 4, 2016

Huntington, WV — The new executive director of the Huntington-based Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition says the biggest challenge for the organization in the future will be to help residents of Appalachia transition away from a coal-based economy.

Natalie Thompson began OVEC executive director October 1. “We’ll be finding ways to help those who need to find jobs and a way to stay in West Virginia,” Natalie Thompson, who took over the top job at OVEC last week, told MetroNews.

Thompson grew up in Beckley and had family members who were coal miners. Her bio says her grandfather was a mine foreman who “lamented the change from underground to mountaintop removal mining, and especially the destruction of the family’s beloved Kayford Mountain.”

Those responses helped shape her environmental consciousness, Thompson said.

“(Coal) is a way to make money but seeing the way that greed conquered and the coal is taken away and taken care of but the people weren’t,” she said.

She began working with the environmental activist group 13 years ago. In recent years, she’s headed up projects focused on campaign finance reform and energy efficiency. She replaces Janet Keating who retired after 24 years with the organization.

OVEC relies heavily on volunteers for its outreach. Thompson was recently part of the hiring of a volunteer membership coordinator, she said.

“She’s fresh on the books with us and we hope she will strengthen that area of our organization,” Keating said. “We have hopes of bringing more people in that are interested in our issues.”

OVEC, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, recently purchased the building that houses its headquarters in Huntington.

Thompson is looking forward to her new role to “help ensure the protection of health and the environment in all of Appalachia.” “It’s always been a passion of mine to protect West Virginia and its beauty. It’s my home state and my land,” she said.

See also: www.FrackCheckWV.net

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