2017-10-11 / Front Page

Morgan County voters back road bond with narrower margin than state

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County voters gave a solid “Yes” to a statewide road bond amendment in Saturday’s special election, though local support was narrower than it was statewide.

Locally, 59% of voters supported the bond, which got a total of 793 “Yes” votes and 545 against.

Across West Virginia, the roadwork funding mechanism was passed by 71% of voters. Statewide unofficial totals came in at 87,751 in favor of the bond and 32,759 against it.

The amendment will allow state lawmakers to sell $1.6 billion in bonds over five years and use the revenue to pay for a long list of roadway projects across the state.

Governor Jim Justice, who proposed the bond issue, visited Berkeley Springs on Tuesday, October 3 during a final push in the Eastern Panhandle to drum up support for the roadway spending amendment.

Turnout was generally low for the amendment question. Just 1,338 of Morgan County’s 13,165 registered voters cast a ballot during 10 days of early voting and on October 7 – a turnout of 10.2%. Across the state, turnout was unofficially tabulated at 10.94%, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Three precincts rejected bond

Despite countywide support for the bond issue, the majority of voters in the Paw Paw, Greenwood and Pleasant View areas voted against the measure.

Several polling places for the special election were moved to Warm Springs Intermediate School due to the Apple Butter Festival. As a result, vote totals for several precincts were combined.

Poll workers said voting was light all day. Polls opened at 6:30 a.m. and closed at 7:30 p.m. on an unseasonably warm day for early October. The last precinct reported their results to the Morgan County Clerk by 9:30 p.m.

Vote totals are preliminary until the Morgan County Commission canvasses the vote on Friday, October 13.

Transportation Secretary Tom Smith issued this statement after the passage of the bond:

"We appreciate the confidence the citizens of West Virginia have shown in us by passing Governor Justice's Roads to Prosperity Bond Amendment. By doing so, it allows the West Virginia Department of Transportation to move forward in playing a major role in West Virginia’s economic recovery.

“With the new revenues passed by the legislature this most recent session, we can make meaningful improvements to the state’s transportation infrastructure. We recognize our responsibility and are committed to putting out this momentous program in an open, honest and transparent manner."

Gov. Justice said, following the vote, that state officials would make hiring West Virginia residents a priority as roadway projects got underway. He expects to call a special session of the Legislature related to the roads plan.

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