A trip to Charleston
Citizen groups opposing Rockwool in Jefferson County took a trip to visit the West Virginia legislature during a Special Session on June 19, to demonstrate the serious opposition to the construction of a Rockwool manufacturing plant in Ranson.
The group met up with others from like-minded organizations, including the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and the West Virginia Citizens Action Group. Altogether, the group numbered approximately 65 individuals, wearing yellow shirts which read: “Say No to Toxic Rockwool.”
The first order of business was to visit the offices of every delegate and senator. A cover letter with an information fact sheet was distributed at each visit, as the group looked forward to speaking with legislators to voice concerns about what was happening in Jefferson County. Although most of the delegates were on the floor and most of the senators had gone home, since the Senate was out of session, very effort was made to contact every legislator. Opposition to Rockwool is not a political issue, but those who promote it will most likely be voted out of office in 2020.
A press conference was held at 2:30 p.m. in the AG Rotunda of the capital. Key speaker was Tim Ross, retired meteorologist and member of Jefferson County Vision, who gave an overview of the Rockwool protests, as well as the dangers posed by the plant.
Other speakers included Delegate John Doyle and leaders from group sponsors, including Eastern Panhandle Sierra Club, Jefferson County Green Coalition, West Virginia Citizens Action Group, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and the Eastern Panhandle Women’s March of West Virginia.
After the Press Conference, the group proceeded down the hall to the Governor’s Reception Room, carrying anti-Rockwool signs and chanting “Go Away Rockwool, Go Away.” Their spokesperson, Catherine Jozwik, asked to present a petition to the governor, with over 13,000 signatures opposing the construction of the Rockwool plant in Ranson. Though the governor was unavailable, his assistant for constituent services did meet with the group and accepted the petition on the governor’s behalf. Accompanying the petition was a folder containing the many anti-Rockwool resolutions passed by city governments and organizations within Jefferson County, along with some submitted by nearby governments and organizations in Maryland and Virginia.
Next stop was the governor’s mansion, where the group hung 200 paper anti-Rockwool tags on the fence surrounding the building. People gathered at the main gate for a group picture and admired the beautiful paper tags with pictures and messages on them. At the request of security, the tags were removed from the fence and some were passed along to legislators.
Follow up correspondence with delegates and senators is planned for the future, so that Jefferson County voices may be heard from 300 miles away.
Jefferson County is currently prosperous and fast growing. Will legislators help to keep it that way?
Gail Kohlhorst, of Harpers Ferry