(10/13/2001)
By Bob Weaver

Regional school boards are going on record for fairness in taxation with deep well drilling, according to Ron Blankenship, Calhoun County Superintendent of Schools. "We have resolved to approach the legislature, key people and Governor Bob Wise with our concerns," he said.

School board representatives from the seven-county region, Wood, Wirt, Calhoun, Roane, Jackson, Tyler and Pleasants, approved resolutions for state legislation this week at the Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) meeting in Parkersburg.

A "Deep Well Resolution" was first passed by the Calhoun Commission in September, since the county has over 70 deep well permits on record. The Commission asked other counties and school boards to join them in "developing and maintaining a consortium to monitor and advocate for fairness in taxation on the production of deep well drilling within our boundaries."

The Calhoun Commission is seeking to obtain money to provide basic services for county residents, develop infrastructure and devote funds for economic development.

RESA-V board members acknowledged that counties in the area could be denied their rightful level of taxation, based upon historical precedent. Blankenship urged each county to support the effort for fair tax revenue.

Carlene Frederick, Calhoun school board member, told RESA-V the taxation process is confusing, with grace periods and tax breaks, muddling the formula that local citizens and governments actually receive.

"There are large numbers of resources quickly leaving the State of West Virginia and particularly here in our counties," said Blankenship. "We have sat back in this state and done nothing for years...It is time for us to do something," referring to state governments inclination to cave in to corporate interests.

Meanwhile, Calhoun's first two deep wells are still drilling. A third site near White Pine Road and the head of Bull River is now being prepared for drilling.


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